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Blueberry farm cannons,
a cacophony of misery
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Editor, The Abbotsford News:

It’s blueberry season.
Great news for consumers, but not if you live near blueberry cannons.

Each year, I talk to frustrated people who don’t know where to lodge complaints about the excessive noise cannons produce. Now, if cannons are being used outside ministry guidelines, we have numbers (listed on this paper’s City Page) to call. However, if you’re complaining about hearing explosions of up to 120 decibles between 6:30 a.m. and 8 p.m., your complaint will be registered but nothing will be done.

You see, these noise levels and hours of operation, as well as the number of blasts (33 blasts per hour times the number of cannons per farm, with some using five cannons or more) are all protected by provincial guidelines.

Residents have been meeting with provincial representatives for two years without making a dent in this wall of preferential treatment. Moving to Bradner almost 30 years ago, long before cannons were used here, I expected normal farm noises and smells. But blasts exceeding WCB-recommended limits, explosions occurring every two to three minutes for 13.5 hours daily aren’t normally associated with country living.

With wonderful doublespeak, the guidelines call this normal farm practice and not only allow such noise pollution, but protect it. Residents support farmers, proactively looking for viable options to cannons.

Besides netting and visual deterrents, we’ve suggested trapping the birds as an option. Each time we’ve been told, No, the animal rights lobby would never allow trapping.

Well, what about human rights? I have it on good authority that I am worth more than hundreds of sparrows (maybe thousands of starlings, for that matter).

In being over-zealous about the sensitivities of bird lovers on one hand, and giving carte blanche to blueberry producers on the other, the ministry is neglecting a large segment of this area’s population. Propane cannons and AV alarms are serious sources of noise pollution.

Each year the problem increases as more fields are dedicated to blueberries. Other industries are required to clean up the pollution they produce. Why not the blueberry industry?

Representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, the blueberry association and growers themselves have admitted that propane cannons are a problem and that, eventually, they have to go.

So, why the delay?
Because they’re cheap to operate. Growers have told us only public pressure will get rid of cannons. So, call those City Page numbers and make your complaint.

And even if your farmer is operating within the guidelines, express your opposition to cannon use.

T. N. Abbotsford

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