Archived Letter – 522

Letter to Editor Wellington Advertiser 5 June 2013
Ric Holt, RR1, 6565 Eighth Line W, Elora 519 846 2298

Barking Dogs

Dear Editor,

On May 31, 2013 the Wellington Advertiser reported on barking dogs disturbing neighbours. The owner of the dogs is Ontario Nutri Lab. Neighbour Ms. K Coulter is quoted to say that neighbours have been disturbed for years on a daily basis by the barking dogs. My letter is a plea to spare the neighbours from this disturbing situation.

Consider the applicable law. Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act 1(1)(g) defines an ”adverse effect” to include “loss of enjoyment of normal use of property.” The neighbours cannot enjoy being in their yards (property) during the barking, so it seems clear the barking is an “adverse effect”. The Act defines a “contaminant” as “any solid, liquid, gas, odour, heat, sound, vibration, radiation or combination of any of them resulting directly or indirectly from human activities that causes or may cause an adverse effect.” The Act goes on to outlaw contaminants. So, this barking is an illegal contaminant. The Ministry of the Environment, which is to enforce the Act, should step in and protect the neighbours. Case closed: MOE should force sufficient mitigation of the noise. If only …

The Province (MOE) side-steps their enforcement responsibility by down-loading its enforcement job to the Centre Wellington municipality. The Wellington Advertiser reports that the municipal bylaw, Section 9.2 states, “no owner of a dog shall permit the dog to make persistent barking, calling or whining noise likely to disturb the residents of adjacent properties.” Case closed: if only…

Centre Wellington side-steps their enforcement responsibility, leaving the neighbours to suffer the ongoing adverse effect of the barking.

The owner of the dogs should fix the problem. The fix is easy: Hire an acoustic engineer to design a sufficient berm or barrier to sufficiently mitigate the sound. Build the barrier and spare the neighbours. The cost would be modest. Unfortunately the cost in the current situation is being born by the neighbours in that they lose the enjoyment of their property. This is clearly unfair to the neighbours.

The MOE should carry out their responsibility to enforce the Act thereby forcing sufficient quietening. The municipality should do the same. The dog owner should bite the bullet, respect the neighbours and build a sufficient noise barrier. We have laws and bylaws to avoid festering messes like this one. Let’s fix this mess and move on.

Ric Holt