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TBM council okays noise exemptions for weddings at vineyard

Vineyard will need to have a "responsible person" on site, staff will review noise level data and live bands will not be permitted anymore starting in 2025
Georgian Hills Vineyards on Grey County 2.

Georgian Hills Vineyard will receive several noise bylaw exemptions over the next two years to carry on with its wedding hosting business.

At its committee of the whole meeting on Feb. 26, The Blue Mountains council okayed a number of exemptions to the noise bylaw requested by Georgian Hills for the 2024 and 2025 wedding seasons.

The vineyard’s request once again generated a significant discussion at the council table and saw a number of local residents speak to council about the issue.

Ultimately, council voted 6-0 (with Coun. Gail Ardiel declaring a conflict) to permit noise bylaw exemptions in 2024 and 2025 for several weddings and two charity events. The exemptions will allow music at the weddings to carry on until midnight.

The vineyard has a full slate of weddings booked for the summer of 2024, but as yet has no bookings for 2025 – it essentially asked council to pre-approve noise exemptions for 11 potential wedding dates in 2025.

Council did include three caveats in the resolution it passed. Georgian Hills must have a “responsible person” designated at all wedding events who can be contacted directly and immediately in the event of a noise complaint. Town staff will also randomly review noise level data provided by the vineyard for six events and any event for which there is a complaint. Council also asked that all wedding events in 2025 use DJs for music rather than live bands, which is something the vineyard said is planned anyway.

On the issue, council received one delegation, two letters from the public and a number of local residents spoke to the public comments portion of the meeting.

Vineyard representative Robert Ketchin told council that since the uncertainty about noise exemptions had arisen in recent months wedding bookings at Georgian Hills had dried up.

“(Couples) do not want to stop their weddings at 11 p.m.,” he said.

He also noted that Georgian Hills was not asking for a “blanket approval” of noise bylaw exemptions. He said their request was for a one-hour extension from 11 p.m to midnight on the specific dates of the weddings booked in 2024 and the potential wedding dates in 2025.

Neighbouring property owner Peter Franklyn also spoke to council and wrote a letter on the matter that was part of council’s package of correspondence for the meeting. The letter included a petition signed by more than 20 local neighbours expressing concerns about the exemption requests.

“This submission sends a clear message. Concerns about this issue are widespread,” said Franklyn. “We’re asking for accountability.”

Mayor Andrea Matrosovs moved a motion to approve the exemptions for 2024 and 2025, with the caveats of the responsible person and the monitoring of sound data by staff. Deputy Mayor Peter Bordignon then had the resolution amended to include the requirement that all 2025 events use DJs for music, rather than live bands.

Coun. Paula Hope sought to split the motion to separate approvals for 2024 events and 2025 events into separate motions.

“We owe it to the neighbours that we respond to their request that we continue to monitor 2024 before allowing 2025,” said Hope.

Bordignon disagreed and said council needed to provide Georgian Hills with clarity.

“If they’re going to be viable, we need to give them that certainty,” he said.

Coun. Shawn McKinlay – who chaired the community services portion of the meeting – ruled that Hope’s request for a split was a substantive amendment to the resolution and he asked for the vote to be held, as council had already held a significant discussion on the matter.

The motion passed unanimously.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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