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Friday, August 12, 2022
Letter: Let’s patronize wineries that don’t use bird bangers

Dear editor:

To those considerate farmers using non-cannon deterrents, I say stand up and let us know who you are so we can show our respect and gratitude by buying your wines in particular. (eg. Ravine Vineyard Estate).

To those councillors ignoring our pleas to address the distressing antisocial farming practice of explosive wildlife deterrents, I say your effectiveness in protecting the community’s well-being amounts to lint gathering in the deep pockets of the offending farmers.

Peace, quiet, and enjoyment of one’s property are normal expectations in any community. Our town has the authority to, and an obligation to make bylaws, uphold those bylaws, and to prevent violation of bylaws.

However, the province and farmers formed the Normal Farm Practices Protection Board and included the explosive wildlife deterrents as a normal practice. Furthermore, this board has authority over and above our town’s bylaws, thereby eviscerating our council’s ability (perhaps from intimidation) to protect us from those smug farmers who think they have some kind of charter right to rake in their profits at the expense of our community’s well-being.

To minimize the violent effect of explosive blasts on families in their homes and children in classrooms and playgrounds within earshot, the farmers refer to these detonating devices as “bird bangers.”

The fact is manufacturers and retailers market these devices at 120-130 dB to deter animals including bears, foxes, rodents, etc. Really? Animals, as large as bears, are frightened away by the blasts? Is it conceivable children, infants, poultry and other farm animals are somehow excluded from the blasting effects?

Let’s look at one aspect of community well-being. What is acceptable noise and what is excessive noise in our classrooms, daycare centres, playgrounds, homes, etc. Noise is measured in decibels (dB). A watch ticking, a fridge humming and a dishwasher measures 20, 40, 60 respectively. City traffic, a noisy restaurant, a mower measures 70, 80, 90 respectively. These are more or less in the range of ambient noise.

Here’s where the problems start. According to the World Health Organization, hearing loss can occur at dB 90, and lower dB for children. A car horn, rightfully meant to startle a person or child to mind the traffic, measures dB 110.

At 120 dB (equivalent to a jet engine at 100 feet), fear and shock begin.

A propane cannon blast emits 120-130 dB! Consider the dB effect of continual detonations from dozens and dozens of cannons within earshot of our schools and homes. Beyond the 130 dB is a shotgun at 140, and a 12-gauge shotgun registers 150 dB.

According to the World Health Organization, some of the known health effects of decibels over 80 include confusion, disruption to thought, inability to learn, difficulty concentrating, nervousness, anxiety, and increases blood pressure and heart rate. How many of our students are experiencing anxiety and learning difficulties?

Additionally, desensitization can occur. Is that what we want for our youngsters? For them, while riding their bikes or walking through an intersection, to have become so desensitized that they fail to respond appropriately to car horns, vehicle back-up beeps, sirens?

To those of us living farther from the cannons, I say let’s not be so callous as to ignore the distress of the families whose homes are nearer to the appalling detonating cannons. Don’t we all have responsibility toward the well-being of our neighbours?

To the offending farmers, I say knock it off! You’ve been in my airspace, on my property, in my home, you’ve forced your explosive presence upon me since August and even today, Nov. 5, you are a pain in my ears!

There’s no disputing that this region was agricultural before I moved here some 20 years ago. But don’t try throwing that argument at me because I, along with most of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s population, have been living here long before your cannons obliterated our peace and quiet.

The NPC (Noise Pollution Clearinghouse says, “Your right to make noise ends where your neighbour’s right to peace and quiet begins” and “Good neighbours keep their noise to themselves.”

Valeria Sebella