Neighbours sound alarm over potential wedding bells at Tay property

That isn’t the sound of wedding bells or bells to start a fight; it’s just an alarm bell some residents in Tay Township are hearing.

At a recent public meeting for 5544 Elliott Side Road, the topic of a proposed wedding venue in the township was met with extra scrutiny and some support by area residents.

The meeting was to discuss a proposed three-year temporary use zoning bylaw amendment for the purposes of holding wedding events, on a property a short distance from the south side of the Wye Marsh between Midland and Wyebridge.

Zoned as rural, the back half of the 4.4 ha (10.96 ac) property is forest, and, as such, the front half was where the proposed wedding area would be with a barn as the proposed designated event space.

During the public meeting, planning and development services manager Todd Weatherall provided a rundown for the dozen attendees in the Tay Township municipal chambers.

Weatherall noted that according to the proposal, weekly events from June to September would be capped at between 100 and 120 people during afternoon and evening hours with an audio setup and live bands stationed in the modified barn. Food would be provided by a caterer and mobile units would serve as bathroom facilities.

Additionally, Weatherall offered that other municipalities had used event control mechanisms such as noise measurement to keep regulations in line.

Applicant Liam Cummins used his opportunity to speak at the meeting by acknowledging that the summary from Weatherall had covered was accurate.

"It's one day of the week for three or four months of the year I'm planning on doing it, over an eight-hour period per day," said Cummins. "As for the big issue of noise, we can have the noise under a decibel meter to keep it under a certain level, to appease everybody."

But there were numerous resident concerns regarding the proposal.

Immediate neighbours wrote in with their opposition.

Next-door neighbour Mary Gieseler, whose home is located 120 metres from the barn and an even shorter distance to the main house, wrote about hearing voices at a normal talking level from the home's deck and open windows.

"Just think how a large crowd with loud voices and music would be when a wedding would occur," wrote Gieseler, who added her concerns of irresponsible behaviour, questioning responsibility should someone "wander onto my property and injure themselves."

Gielseler also pointed out that a wedding held on the property in last September of last year led to vehicles along Elliott Side Road until the next day posed a potential road hazard.

The "thin edge of the wedge" was a comment Gielseler made in her correspondence as it related to an expansion of events on the property, not limited solely to weddings.

Another nearby resident, Bruce Wood, spoke at the public meeting and also included that phrase in his words.

"Regrettably, there have been examples where the thin edge of the wedge starts off with something small, and then it grows," said Wood. "Burl's Creek (Event Grounds) could be an example, where it started out as an automotive flea market, and then all of a sudden it became the place where Shania Twain and Nickelback come.

"My point is that if it was a logical extension of the property, if most of the services were already there, then I would be less likely to complain. But as stated in the application, it's going to be serviced by temporary washrooms and caterers. In the future, does that mean he's going to be seeking changes to the septics? There's only single-phase power along there; there's not three-phase power. Is he going to be bumping that up?"

Environmental concerns were also raised regarding the Wye Marsh and fears of noise, intoxication, traffic and litter.

Archaeologist Jamie Hunter, a resident 170 metres from the proposed wedding barn, pointed out additional archaeological issues with the area.

Some supporting letters were accepted however, citing the lack of a wedding venue in Tay Township and the revenue and tourism such an event could bring in. along with support for Cummins as a small business owner were cited. Of note, perhaps, is that those who were in support of the proposed venue do not live in the immediate vicinity of the subject property.

With no further questions from the public or council, meeting chair Deputy Mayor Barry Norris asked that members of the public wanting to comment further on the proposed bylaw could provide written letters to the planning and development services division by email or fax.

Tay council meets for regular council meetings every fourth Wednesday of the month. Archives and livestreams of council meetings are available through the Tay Township YouTube channel.

Further information including council’s agenda can be found on the Tay township website.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,