Supports Their Citizens
On Monday afternoon, September 16, Abbotsford Council placed the issue of propane cannons back on their agenda. Our group attended and three speakers expressed their views about these obnoxious devices.
Our first speaker lives on Matsqui prairie and has a young family, and also cares for handicapped adults in her home. She explained how the noise from propane cannons has forced her to make expensive upgrades to her house in an attempt to quiet the sound levels. And in some cases she has not been able to take certain handicapped people into her care because of the surrounding noise from propane cannons. Also the noise has a negative affect on her child who has difficulty napping in the afternoon and getting to sleep in the evening until the cannons finally stop at around dusk. What is also interesting is that this speaker's husband and his parents have been blueberry farmers for years and have never used or seen the need to use cannons. They also understand the impact that cannons have on the neighbours and they have refused to submit their neighbours to the extreme noise pollution produced by propane cannons.
Our second speaker was from Mt. Lehman and she went on to descibe the impact that propane cannons have on her family. This family grows bulbs and have been active in the farming community since the early 70's. The speaker's husband is also a commercial pilot and often flies night flights and must be able to get some sleep during the day time. Propane cannons make this an impossibility. She went on to explain that other people she knows work shift, or work from the home and the noise is intolerable for these people. People have every right to farm, she said, but no one has the right to submit their neighbours to this amount of noise. This speaker urged council NOT to adopt the Ministry of Agriculture's (MAFF) new guidelines because they do nothing to alleviate or control the amount of noise that neighbours will have to tolerate. And her final message for council was to ask them to respond to the wishes of their constituents and do the "right thing". Be forerunners of change and set an example for other communities to follow, she said.
Our third speaker also described the impact that cannons have on his life, and he quantified the problem, stating that the number of blasts a cannon victim has to endure can be in the hundreds of thousands in a season. This speaker went on to say that he has had discussions with the staff of the local University College of the Fraser Valley and they would be willing to carry out an independent study of the propane cannon issue, and then report back to the municipality and help them make a decision on this issue. Council was very receptive to this option. This speaker also urged Council not to adopt the new guidelines proposed by MAFF.
Council proved to be very sympathetic about the noise pollution caused by propane cannons and a number of supportive statements were made, as follows:
Council then discussed a motion to determine what the next steps should be, and the motion agreed to was the following: "City staff would work with a citizens group, MAFF, and the industry to develop a strategy to ultimately eliminate the use of propane cannons!"
- MAFF are asking us to implement and police a double standard, ie. a noise standard for the ALR that would be totally unacceptable to our urban residents. We should not accept this.
- in the past the agricultural industry has policed itself in terms of poultry farming, livestock and manure management, etc. but the blueberry industry has not. Many have already moved to netting and proven that this is a valid option. It is time netting became the standard.
- the blueberry harvest season is expanding as new varieties that ripen earlier are being planted. Also more and more acres are being planted continually. The problem is going to get much worse. We can't enforce the noise bylaws as they stand at present, so we have to move to a ban of these devices over a phased period.
- we should communicate to MAFF that the industry has to move to other techniques and phase cannons out.
- another commented how many farms use nets and cannons have become unacceptable.
- one mentioned that they would discuss this topic with other Fraser Valley municipalities at the upcoming Annual Convention of the Union of B.C. Municipalities being held in the near future. They also considered the new regulations to be downloading by MAFF, with the expectation that municipalities would police an unacceptable set of noise bylaws.
- a "long term" phase out plan was acceptable to another councillor.
- Only one councillor, who has been pro cannon in the past, remained silent on the issue.
The group's web master, on behalf of all members of Ban the Cannons, would like to thank Abbotsford Council for their understanding and support on the issue of noise pollution from propane cannons. Thank You.
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