A Saanich resident was ordered to pay two $200 tickets for two days of excess noise, which one neighbour testified sounded like a “growler jet” coming from her property on Old East Road in Saanich in May 2018.
Nancy Kinney told the courts she didn’t dispute the noise complaints but stated the noise was a normal farm practice and asserted she was protected under the Farm Practices Protection (Right to Farm) Act. Kinney didn’t present any evidence, nor did she testify at the hearing on Oct. 16.
The Farm Protection Act states any sound of noise caused by farming activity carried out in a reasonable manner on farmland between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. is exempt from bylaws.
Judicial Justice Hunter Gordon wrote in a judgment posted online this week, that there was no evidence Kinney has a farm business and ordered the payment.
A Saanich bylaw officer testified she had been a frequent visitor to Kinney’s property, responding to numerous complaints since 2015 that related to the use of the property, unlicensed vehicles, illegal use of out buildings and noise.
On the far, northern end of the property is a riding ring — a large rectangular building with a base of two stacked layers of concrete blocks upon which numerous arched beams are attached, supporting a white rubber roof. The riding ring is located near Michael Romaine’s property, across the street.
Pictures, taken three weeks after the dates of the noise complaints, shown in court show a significant collection of vehicles and parts of vehicle that were not licenses and “clearly not roadworthy,” plus boat trailers, some with boats on them.
Michael Romaine testified that on May 20, 2018 while working on his property near the riding ring, he heard a loud consistent and continuous banging, along with a high pitched metal grinding, which he said was clearly emanating from inside the building. Adding that the noise went on for hours, making it hard to have conversations and could be heard in his home some distance away with the TV on and the doors and windows closed.
Romaine said the same noise, intensity and approximate length of time repeated itself on May 22, 2018. Adding that since Kinney had moved in about seven years earlier, he had not observed any farming activity but had seen lots of vehicles coming and going from the property.
He also testified that not long after Kinney had moved in, the two had gotten into an argument about an electric line and have had sour relations since.
Another neighbour, Elizabeth Wilson, who lives nearby with her mother testified that her mother could not sit on their deck during these dates because of the noise and that it could be heard from inside her home with the windows closed.
Kinney chose not to present any evidence for reasons she said were not directly related to the tickets, resting her defence solely on the law.
Justice Gordon wrote there was nothing to support that Kinney has a farming business and the activities in the riding ring were not remotely connected to a farm business or horses, despite the name.
Kinney explained, but not under oath, that the noise came from workers cutting holes in a large metal container in the riding ring to make door and window openings for a building for farm workers.
“As I see it, Ms. Kinney has approached her defence this way: ‘I have a large acreage in the Agricultural Land Reserve: ergo I must have a farm business, any activities I carry on must be a farm operation and any kind of building activity must be a normal farm practice. And those must be assumptions that require no evidence’,” wrote Justice Gordon.