Actions to Date
The group felt they needed to increase their numbers to be seen as a more credible organization, so they distributed flyers to hundreds of homes in areas impacted by cannons, and they also got media coverage. Quickly the number of members grew, and by the summer of 2001 the next set of activities started.
First was a plan to Picket appropriate locations supported by the media and second was to Present our position to local and provincial governments to try to get this issue resolved.
It was agreed that about every two weeks an information picket would be held at approprite locations to draw attention to the noise pollution problem caused by propane cannons. The following pickets were held:
1. Our first picket was held In late July, at the intersection of 16th and LeFeuvre, in Abbotsford, in the heart of blueberry country. This picket was a resounding success. The group got together before hand and made signs, shared coffee and doughnuts and then marched to the designated location. There we picketed from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM, much to the ire of local blueberry farmers. Several newspapers sent reporters to cover the event and many people passing by gave us the big thumbs up! We handed out many pamphlets and received coverage in the local papers.
2. Our second picket in early August moved to Langley, the township adjacent to Abbotsford. Your humble webmaster was unable to attend that picket, as he was busy haying, but I was told that this event was also a great success and it expanded out exposure outside of Abbotsford.
3. Our third picket, held towards the end of August was at the Ministry of Agriculture offices in Abbotsford, and this event was covered by the local media as well as BC TV. Our grievance hit the TV airways that evening on the 6:00 news.
4. A week later we picketed the residence and farm of Wilhelmina de Jager, head of the local blueberry growers organization. This insignificant little farm has less than two acres of blueberry bushes planted, and uses a dreadful AV Alarm Box that creates a bird distress noise. These people have this device set to go off every 11 seconds. Can you imagine! The neighbours in that area are very tolerent. If this was my neighborhood, your humble webmaster would have blasted the damn thing with a shot gun!
5. Our final picket of the season was held at the Minister of Agriculture's office, the Office of Mr. John Van Dongen. At this time we delivered our demands to his staff asking to change the farm practuices act that allows the use of noise makers as normal farm practices. Our view is that these devices must be banned. Rumor has it that the minister slipped out the back door as we set up out front, but that is only speculation, as subsequesntly Mr Van Dongen has shown much support for our cause.
Presentations to Governments:
The second set of initiatives undertaken by the group were presentations to municipal and provincial government officials.
1. On Monday, August 13th a presentation was given to Abbotsford Council, by Roger C. of our group. The mayor, George Ferguson and Alderman John Redekp were particularily supportive, and most other councillers were in favor of addressing the issue. Coun. Redekop proposed that a committee be set up to study the propane cannon issue and report its findings to the Provincial Ministery of Agriculture, who are ultimately responsible for controlling cannons. This motion was passed and Mayor Ferguson stated that he would be a part of the committee. Only Councillers Gibson and Warawa spoke against the motion and only the latter voted against it. The objective of the committee was to present something to the Ministry of Agriculture early in the New Year (2002) to given farmers enough time to react prior to the next berry season. We all left the presentation feeling ecstatic. Our man Roger had done a wonderful job!
2. On Friday, September 28th, the first Mayor's committee meeting was held, and named the "Propane Cannon Advisory Select Committee". The Mayor attended, along with Councillor Moe Gill, also a berry farmer. Four blueberry growers were aprt of the committee as was a member of the Blueberry council, representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, and our lone representative, Roger. Roger may have been outnumbered but he more than held his own and lambasted the growers for their socially unacceptable practices of bombarding their neighbors with constant noise pollution. On number of issues were discussed and a second meeting planned.
3. On October 16th the second meeting was held and the blueberry farmers failed to turn up. Our group turned up in force and filled the room. The representative from the Blueberry Council, Geraldine Auston, made a quick excuse and excused herself shortly into the session began, also never to be seen or heard from again. at this session presentations were made by WCB staff, concerning noise levels and the Pitt Meadows bylaw officer who described how that community handled the cannon issue. Our group also presented our position paper on noise makers at this meeting.
4. The next meeting was held on October 30. Only Ministry of Agriculture representatives were left, Ron Bertrand and Bert Van Dalfsen, who for some reason took on the role of defending the absent growers. Needless to say they received the rath of those of us who pay their salaries! As it turns out these two had not even forwarded our position paper to the Minister. They were acting on their own initiative, and their position basically was the status quo. At this meeting our position was discussed, and Mayor fergusen said that we were optimistic to think cannons could be banned by 2003. A more realistic date would be in about five years. He did say this folks! The Ministry of Agriculture folks went silent from then on. The next meeting was planned for one month later, Nov. 28th.
5. This meeting was cancelled at the last minute because the Ministry of Agriculture folks said they would not be returning. Our group was very "down" about this because our plan was to expand upon Mayor Ferguson's five year statement and to finalize an approach for getting there. We think a political decision was made here that things were going to fast, too soon! Calls were made and not returned and the group became very restless. Finally a call got through to the Minister of Agriculture who agreed to meet with us.
6.On Friday Nov.30, about a dozen of our members met with the Minister of Agriculture, Mr. John Van Dongen. We again expressed our strong opposition to the use of cannons, the acceptance of cannons as "normal farm practices", the impacts of noise on peoples lives, etc. etc. Mr. Van Dongen was very patient with us, even when one of our more exuberant members suggested it was time that politicians got "off their asses" and did something about this issue! He then explained that he had commissioned his staff to summarize the cannon problem for min. his plan is to review the cannon issue through the Xmas/New Year break of 2001, and put a plan in place early in the new year. The situation will change he said, but he would not promise a ban of cannons at this time, but also would not rule it out. It was a very positive meeting and again our group left a political meeting feeling very good. And that is a detailed summary of our activities to date.
For more information about our group, Ban the Cannons please call:
Roger @ 604 856-2085 or
Terry @ 604 856-4209 or
send a note to : firstname.lastname@example.org