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TTC using sound cannons to combat seagull problem

The TTC is combatting its seagull problem in a unique way – through the use of sound cannons.

The seagulls, the TTC says, have been increasing in numbers since its Leslie Barns building, a streetcar maintenance facility at 1165 Lake Shore Boulevard East, opened in 2015. Since then, the transit authority estimates 10,000 to 15,000 seagulls visit and nest at the site each year.

The sound cannons – which emit a loud sound to encourage the birds to relocate – could be activated up to four times daily between the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A news release from the TTC says that the use of the sound cannons will begin mid-March until the end of June in order to align with the bird’s nesting season.

The cannons will not be used when there are no birds present, the TTC noted.

“The sound cannons do not fire actual ammunition and will not harm the seagulls,” the transit agency said. “Instead, they emit a loud sound that scare away the seagulls, encouraging them to relocate.”

In a video shared by the TTC to CP24.com on Wednesday, it shows thousands of seagulls flying over the roof of Leslie Barns which according to a spokesperson were not happy about the netting.

The spokesperson said the canon sound is barely audible inside the facility. The TTC describes the cannons as sounding similar to a single firework in the distance.

“They will be pointed away from the residential area to decrease noise. Within the building, the sound will be more noticeable, similar to the volume of a jackhammer or an oncoming ambulance, but in a short single burst,” the transit agency says.

According to the TTC, the seagulls cause “unsanitary and disruptive” working conditions for employees, and the building itself is unsafe for the birds.

“The high roof location also creates difficult living conditions for seagull chicks who are desperate for food and water and not yet capable of flight,” the TTC said. “Sound cannons are one of the top recommendations from experts to prevent seagulls from nesting or returning to a location.”

Prior to the installation of the sound cannons, the TTC says that it’s taken a number of measures to deter the seagulls from landing and nesting on the roof, like installing a fence and having a staff member visit the roof periodically. However, none have worked long term, and an attempt to deter the birds by covering the roof in plastic sheets damaged the building’s green roof.

The TTC says that the sound cannons will not have an effect on transit in the area, however passengers travelling on the 83 Jones may hear the cannons when travelling near the Leslie Barns area, as may people who live or work in the surrounding area.