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John van Dongen's
Report Card, Final Grade
John van Dongen Back in February, 2002, the BC Ministry of Agriculture finalized new guidelines for propane cannon use, and the Minister of Agriculture, the Honorable John van Dongen introduced this topic at the 2002 Tradex Horticultural Show.

Now that the 2002 blueberry cannon season is over, just how did the Minister fare with the implementation of his new guidelines? The following table lists the many promises made in the guidelines package, and in meetings with our group, and what we actually experienced during the propane cannon season.

John van Dongen's Report Card

FINAL GRADE, in 2002
New Regulation Accomplished
or Failed
Category A Devices

Firing Frequency of once per 5 min's. for single shot cannons
Langley, Abbotsford, Mission, Surrey, and many more locations report too frequent firings of single shot cannons.
Firing Frequency of 33 shots / hr. for multi-shot cannons
Surrey and Matsqui report rapid firings of triple shot cannons.
Note, one Surrey resident alone recorded 57 violations of propane cannon use!!
Separation Distance, 150M within the ALR
Sumas Prairie & Matsqui Village report cannons positioned very near a residence. In one case, grower was unfamiliar with new reg's. but moved the cannon?
Separation Distance, 300M to non-ALR homes
No rpts.

Category B Devices

Separation Distance 100 M within the ALR
Screechers used randomly in a field by a Sumas Prairie grower, often closer than 100M to a nearby residence. Distance guidelines ignored on Matsqui prairie.
Category A & B Devices

Hours of Operation, 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM
or dawn to dusk if earlier in the p.m. and later in the a.m.
Sumas Prairie, Surrey, and Bradner report early startups, before 6:30 AM.
Surrey reports cannons booming after 8:00 PM.
Seven locations report overnight cannons use.
Dawn to Dusk rules not followed in September.
Cannons must be marked with operator's name & 24 hr. contact phone number
This was not done, and nothing was communicated to the public or marked at the farm gate!
Local contacts must be established for non-resident owners
This was not done, and nothing was communicated to the public or marked at the farm gate!
A cannon registry be established by the blueberry industry and local governments.
No such registry was setup or communicated to the public.
New Guidelines to be adopted as Standards

Are these the new standards?
The guidelines were not communicated to the public as promised.
They were not followed by growers during the cannon season.
They were not enforced.
No facility to fine violators or confiscate devices was set up.
Regulation of cannons to be turned over to Municipal Gov't.
Not one Municipal Gov't. adopted the new guidelines and inforced them.
A complaint process with phone contact numbers will be communicated to residents via local newspapers
A complaint process was not set up and communicated to the public.
The available of netting funds for growers near the edge of ALR
No netting funding was provided.

Final Grade
Implementation of the 2002 Guidelines for "Audible Bird Scare Devices" was a total failure.
Was it van Dongen who failed.......
yes, he was ultimately responsible.
Or did his staff just let him down.....
yes, most probably!

Empty political promises
are just another form of noise pollution!

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