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Sunday, September 25, 2022
Letter: Solution needed to noise from grape growers’ cannons

Dear editor:

After reading previous letters regarding the use of bird cannons here in Niagara-on-the-Lake or the St. Davids area, I feel that our story needed to be heard as well.

We bought land and built our home here on Sandalwood Crescent just down from York Road. Imagine our surprise while the house was being built: the sound of blasting cannons right at our doorstep. We were shocked, horrified and downright upset that this was happening .

When we purchased our land seven years prior there was no mention or acknowledgement of bird cannons being used. So it never occurred to us that this would become normal farm practice, as it is called.

We built in 2015 and have regretted doing so and are upset that it was not mentioned by the land developer or the town that agricultural noises meant the use of bird cannons. We were expecting tractor sounds, the use of fertilizers, etc. but not ear-shattering noise that literally shakes our windows.

Below us are Line 9 and Tanbark, where five grape growers all use bird cannons. The growers are within less than half a kilometre of each other, which leaves us subjected to five cannons going off continuously, 12 hours a day, seven days a week for three months.

They are extremely loud, as the noise travels up to our subdivision. We cannot go outside to embrace the fall, we cannot sit on our porch to enjoy the scenery. The town has said this is a provincial issue. If so, why does the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake not forward the many complaints to the province on our behalf?

I am sympathetic to the problems growers may have, but grapes are not feeding my family nor are we reaping any benefits. When I asked one neighbouring winery why they did not use cannons their response was, “We care about our community and want everyone to enjoy being here.”

All the birds are gone, including the fall birds, because of the bird cannons. I do not see small wildlife anymore, as I am sure they are as frightened as we are. There have been days when bird cannons have gone until 10 p.m. as well. It is dark when they start and dark when they stop. It’s nerve-wracking.

We have called the growers in the past and have kindly asked them to turn down the cannons. They do so for a short period of time, then within a few days it is just as loud if not moreso.

So answer me this: who will they listen to? Who has the authority to deal with this very real problem and how much longer do we as taxpayers have to tolerate this intrusive method that is affecting not only our health but also the value of our homes.

To repeat the words in the last letter to the editor written by a visitor to the area from England: If you are thinking of visiting this area, DON’T.

Can the message be any clearer?

One grower’s response to me when I pleaded with him to turn down his cannons was, “We were here before you.”

Really? Well, look around my friend, as 800 new homes have been built here in the last 10 years and our taxes are high!

Is it fair that we have to now look to move or is there a simpler solution? There are many growers and wineries that do not use bird cannons and are successfully yielding grapes by using netting or other less-intrusive methods.

Maybe be a good neighbour and follow in their footsteps.

Ray and Silvana Auld