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Red-necked cannon users

Your editorial, "This Isn't Green Acres", had the initial appearance of objectivity but quickly faded to uninformed rambling on a topic of which you seem to have little personal experience. Your presumption that the Ban the Cannons group is made up of disenchanted city folk who have moved to the country with some idyllic vision of tranquil fields disturbed by nothing louder than the chirping of birds is insulting.

First of all, every member of the group has lived in rural areas for 20 years or more. Many are or have been farmers. I have lived on my property for over 25 years amid smells and sights and sounds that are normally associated with rural living; about 17 years longer than my neighbour's decision to switch to cannon-protected blueberry production. So I am not from a vastly different world than blueberry farmers, unless our diiferences reside in the reality that some of us consider our neighbours' rights as equal to our own , while others consider their right to farm as superceding everyone else's. The fact that the government protects this skewed view is due chiefly to the influence of the Farm Practices Board, a government funded lobby with a louder political voice than the ordinary citizen's.

Secondly, the legislation does only 2 things to mitigate the situation even nominally:
1)Each cannon may not start now until 6:30 a.m. instead of 6:00 a.m. What! I should smile gratefully because enlightened legislation is guaranteeing me 100db triple blasts every 5 minutes for 13 1/2 hours instead of 14 hours? And that's from only one of this farmer's cannons. He operates 4 of them from mid-June through to October. Do the Math and then talk to me about normal farm practice.

2)The cannons now cannot be closer than 300m to the property line. Well that's not comforting either. Most cannons are not and have not usually been that close and yet they can still emit wall-shaking noise. So the new restrictions achieve little. And these seeming concessions were the result of weeks of meeting in good faith with Ministry repesentatives (the invited farm representatives didn't bother to show up after an initial meeting__ I wouldn't have either if I'd had a government-supported lobby to get me what I needed.)

Thirdly, surely you are joking when, referring to the cannon detonation, you suggest that knowing "what to expect and for how long" reduces the impact of the noise. If you were warned beforehand that someone would fire 3 shotgun blasts (cannons are like that) every 60 seconds for 13 1/2 hours, would that make it acceptable to you? If anything, the anticipation adds to the impact.

Fourth, you seem to be unaware that there is more than one kind of farming in rural areas. Some of our members joined because their animals were miscarrying or bolting into the road because of the noise and the unwillingness of their blueberry farmer neighbours to address the problems. Fifth, you are right. Country living is about compromise. But doesn't that imply two sides willing to talk in order to find what's acceptable to both? So where were the farmers and the Farm Practices Board the whole time we were trying to find common ground? We have spent hours talking to John VanDongen offering informed, researched suggestions that could provide viable alternatives to the status quo. And where is our group as Ministry, city officials and farmers discuss how to implement and enforce the restrictions? Shut out, that's where.

At the rate that blueberry farms are proliferating there may be "one coming to your neighbourhood soon". If the owner is socially resposible and uses an alternative to noise devices, you'll be fine. If not, well then you'll have the chance to walk a mile in our shoes. So, before you preach about compromise and returning to the city, please be sure of your facts and try for a little less biased condescension. Your remarks read like red-necked bigotry.

Abbotsford, B.C.

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