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Weapons of Mass

Earlier this year, a neighbour approached me and asked if I would allow my name to be added to a growing list of citizens from mainly rural areas of the Fraser Valley who, unfortunately, live close enough to berry-growing operations who utilize propane cannons as a method of frightening marauding flocks of birds who are feasting on the harvest.
Myself, living in close proximity to a cannon-yielding berry farm, and having endured the incessant blasts fired in our direction for quite a few years (oddly enough, none of the cannons seem to be pointed in the direction of the grower’s home), did not hesitate to join the “Ban the Cannons”group. However, I did not actively participate in the group protests. Call it complacency or reluctance to become part of a placard carrying protest group. With a bit of friendly arm-twisting from aforementioned good neighbour, I finally decided that the intolerable assault on rural tranquility by the constant bombardment of these cannons must stop and I would get involved in this issue.
Last week, I participated in an organized protest and quickly discovered that none of the individuals could be labelled as “protest group types” (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Like myself, most have been long time members of their rural communities who have had their lives severely disrupted because of the use of propane cannons. Also, most of us have been living in these areas long before the cannons moved in. Anyone suggesting otherwise displays ignorance of the facts.
In writing this letter, I was contemplating how to approach this issue to present a convincing argument that would influence those involved in the government decision-making process and cause them to realize that this method of farming is both obnoxious and invasive, causing a great deal of grief, and must be stopped. I contemplated doing some research on the negative behavioural effects of constant, loud noise-both on animal and human populations-and cleverly wrapping up my argument by suggesting the effectiveness of alternatives not as insidious as propane cannons. (Interestingly, our local farmer who uses cannons uses these other methods in the vicinity of his own home.)
But, you know what? There can be no argument stronger than being unfortunate enough to have a berry grower move into your neighbourhood and point a group of cannons in your direction and have these cannons firing continuously from 6:30 in the morning to far past the dinner hour, for the entire berry season.
I want to know who the hell was it who decided that this fell under the definition of “acceptable farm practises”. Not someone who has become cannon fodder. I’ll guarantee you that! Never mind, let’s move into the 21st century and realize that the definition of “acceptable farm practises” must change as we understand more about the environmental impacts of pollution-and these cannons are noise pollution of the highest degree. I honestly try to imagine myself as a berry grower attempting to protect my crop. But, I cannot fathom myself inflicting this form of severe disruption to my community. I just would not do it and I do not understand the mindset of anyone-grower or regulating government agency, who has deemed this as “acceptable”. The only solution is a complete ban. Reducing freqency does not resolve this issue.
Mike De Jong is the MLA for our area. He was an “in your face” man and general thorn in the side of the former ruling NDP party. He would have enjoyed an issue such as this to champion for electorate. Where have you gone, Mr. De Jong? I’m counting on you and hoping that there still exists some of the idealistic, strongly opinionated, individualistic attitude long admired by those who elected you and realize that this is wrong. You should be helping us to ban the cannons.
The “Ban the Cannons” group is growing and will not go away until the cannons are gone. Do the right thing now and not when some poll advises it to be politically astute decision.
Also, while I realize the ridiculous laws which allow this bombardment are provincial, I also call on our municpality to continue to ask “is this the right thing for our community?”. The rule makers in Victoria can easily ignore a rural community such as ours-let’s not let that happen.
JB, Abbotsford

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