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Abbotsford Council
Ducks Cannon Noise Issue

Council ducking berry cannon noise issue: Peary
By Russ Akins

An effort to play “hardball’’ with the province and have it bear costs of enforcing noise complaints from berry cannons has been defeated after a recent vote by Abbotsford councillors.

Staff recommended the noise regulation bylaw be amended in two key areas – construction hours and noise scare devices, such as blueberry cannons.

The province must continue to “provide the necessary resources’’ if the city is to become involved in enforcement of cannon noise complaints, director of administration Toireasa Strong told council. Until that happens, agricultural activity is technically outside the noise bylaw, under right-to-farm legislation.

Strong advised the bylaw should be changed to delete section seven, which gives the city regulation over noise scare devices – thus putting the onus on the province to bear enforcement costs. On construction, some contractors and builders have asked for variances in the hours work is permitted. Under the existing bylaw, work can start Monday to Saturday at 6 a.m., but Coun. Mark Warawa wanted to set that ahead to 7 a.m., which also was defeated. That happened at the Aug. 19 regular meeting of council, when a motion to give three readings to the amended bylaw – which would mean its virtual approval – was defeated when four council members voted against it.

Opposed were councillors George Peary, John Redekop, Patricia Ross and Chuck Wiebe.

Deleting the cannon section of the bylaw would mean the city would seem to be “ducking the issue, from my perspective,’’ Peary told the Abbotsford News this week.

“Berry farmers have to make a living too, and when we have residential subdivisions close to farmland, these issues occur,’’ he added, saying the noise problem is especially noticeable in the Clayburn area.

In earlier debate at the committee level, Ross said city staff “is trying to play hardball with the province – if we don’t, they’ll walk all over us.’’

This year marks a season of more stringent cannon guidelines from the province. Blueberry growers can’t start cannons until 6:30 a.m., rather than 6 a.m. as in the past, and cannons now fire every five minutes, rather than every three minutes.

The issue of city control over berry cannons could be brought back to the table when a full council is present, said Peary.

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