Oceanex is at its wit’s end with seagulls. But the shipping company on the St. John’s harbour front has an idea. It has asked the city of St. John’s to allow it to implement noise deterrent measures in an effort to get rid of the flying poop machines.
During council’s meeting Monday, Coun. Tom Hann said the city will grant Oceanex’s request on an interim basis.
“The birds feed and nest on top of the buildings of Oceanex and the containers and its equipment and consequently that presents a health hazard for the people that work on the docks and have to move the containers and who have to work in the buildings as well,” he told reporters after the meeting.
“They have used a number of deterrents identified across the country and it hasn’t worked. The gulls eat, they land on the buildings, they land on containers and you know what happens then,” he said.
Oceanex’s plan is to shoot off blanks 60 minutes after daylight and 60-90 minutes before dark from Sunday to Friday from July to November.
“The effluent of birds is famous in the harbour area and it presents a problem, a health issue for the people who work on the equipment there. So they’ve discovered this system that basically shoots off blanks. It is noisy and once the birds get used to that they won’t come back,” said Hann.
He said council will allow it, but he didn’t say for how long.
“We have a concern about the noise levels so what we are saying is try it on an interim basis and see if it works. If it does work then let’s talk to the neigbourhood. Let’s see if we get feedback from the neighbourhood. If we do we’ll have to discontinue it,” said Hann, chairman of the development committee.
Coun. Gerry Colbert, who voted in favour of Oceanex’s request, said while he understands and respects the problem with birds, council also has to consider what affect the noise might have on pets in the neighbourhood.
“Coming from someone who lives with an animal that is terrified of gunshots and fireworks it doesn’t matter if you shoot them straight up or straight out. I don’t know if there will be a problem, but animals will be terrified before and after, because they know there is going to be a gunshot and the fear is real. It can happen. It may not happen but they should be at least cognizant of it,” he said.
Oceanex wants to shoot off the blanks on piers 4 and 5. Hann said council will see what happens with the plan during the next few weeks.
“If there’s a strong reaction from the neighbourhood about the noise it will be, ‘cease and desist’ and we’ll see if we can find some other alternative for it. They use it at the landfill and it seems to be working for them,” he said.