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Cannon Guidelines
Full of Loopholes
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Dear Minister,
Thank you for your response to my e-mail even though it took two months for you to reply. There are a couple of assumptions you have made in your letter which are incorrect:

In your email of September 14, 2001, you indicated that your neighbouring farmer was using two cannons; a single-shot at every 20 seconds and a triple-shot at every 20 seconds. From your latest email, I conclude that the farmer is following the new guidelines and firing his cannons on average 10 times (30 shots) per hour. This would appear to be a significant improvement over last year.

The situation was worse this year because the farmer replaced the single shot cannon with a triple shot model. He also used the highest setting for his cannons which is in contravention of the current Langley Township Noise Bylaw ( last year he used the lowest settings ). Since your revised guidelines are silent on the noise level settings this is a retrograde step on your part.

As of August 8, 2002, Mr. Bill Storie, Senior Bylaw Enforcement Officer, indicates that Langley has not received any complaints this year regarding farmers not following the rules for cannon use.

I have complained to Bill Storie but he made it clear that he won't enforce the bylaw ( by ticketing violators ) because there is no effective way of collecting monies owed. Council won't allow collection using small claims court. Bill Storie stated that your Ministry is downloading its responsibilities ( with regard to policing cannons ) and the municipality doesn't have the man power to do this. He also indicated that you have dropped the need for cannons to be operated at their lowest sound level, thereby allowing berry farmers to circumvent the new guidelines ( noise levels are worse ). We've given up complaining to a deaf ear - that's why he says he hasn't received formal complaints! However, he is dead against your new guidelines and Langley Township has promised me that it will be holding a public hearing to discuss the cannon issue.

If, due to a lack of resources, local governments choose not to regulate propane cannons under the current guidelines, it is unlikely that they would consider the more costly regulation of decibel levels.

How can you be satisfied with the current state of affairs, knowing that local governments won't enforce your guidelines. Or, is this your way of ensuring that berry farmers won't be inconvenienced - set guidelines that nobody enforces?

Municipalities, understandably, don't want to police a problem that you have created. Furthermore, if they want to do the right thing and ban cannons, you won't let them. You can't hide behind: " The Province can not regulate the use of these devices directly, as that is the jurisdiction of local governments". If you were serious, you ( the provincial government ) could pass legislation enabling you to do so. This is just a little game, with you passing the buck to the municipalities who then pass it back to you, while complainant citizens are left to twist in the wind.

In conclusion, I assure you that I take the noise issue seriously

I don't believe this. You make guidelines with loopholes big enough for a Mac truck to drive through ( allowing farmers to replace single shot cannons with triple shot models thereby allowing 33 blasts per hour rather than only 12 ; not mandating measurement of sound levels and trying to blame it on a lack of municipal resources ( how pathetic ); not checking on whether cannons have been registered ( my farmer has no contact information on either cannon and nothing at the farm gate ). In my opinion your so-called efforts to solve the cannon noise problem are useless.

Further, the British Columbia Blueberry Council has been addressing complaints regarding blueberry farmers who do not follow the guidelines.

Talk about the fox guarding the hen house. Our BTC members haven't found BCBC to provide effective enforcement. In fact they even tried to prevent us from complaining about farms that weren't next to us. Moreover, they told the public ( newspaper article ) that cannon problems were solved after one visit by Rick Dulat. What an interesting press release considering the fact that our members had to call Rick back many times when neighbouring berry farmers continued to violate the guidelines.

My conclusion is that your guidelines : are easily circumvented by farmers, are being violated without any effective measure of enforcement , and are dismissed by municipalities who resent the downloading of responsibility to them. You can fool some of the people all of the time but you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

DS of Langley


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