Blueberry cannon regulations adequate: BCBC

Abbotsford's blueberry growers feel enforcement is the real issue regarding cannons.

Abbotsford’s blueberry growers are “unlikely” to support a  plan to alter regulations pertaining to propane cannons.

Debbie Etsell, executive director of the BC Blueberry Council, said growers “would not be happy with that at all,” if Coun. John Smith’s suggestions become a reality. Last week, the Abbotsford councillor made it known he’ll bring a motion forward to create a new bylaw governing the use of cannons, which are fired to scare birds away from crops. Currently, the ministry of agriculture sets the guidelines.

Smith would like to see the starting time for cannons moved from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., and the evening deadline moved from 8 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Cannons are already shut off for an afternoon break between noon and 3 p.m. but he’d also like to see them stopped on statutory holidays and from noon Saturdays to 7 a.m. Mondays. He would also like to see cannon setbacks extended from the current guideline of 200 metres to 300. And, he is suggesting tougher fines for non-compliance – $1,000 for the first offence and $2,000 thereafter.

However, Etsell said the current guidelines don’t need to be altered, they need to be enforced.

“There has been a bit of a lapse and a problem with enforcement in Abbotsford,” she said

“We do not want to see growers that are not compliant to the guidelines being able to continue. It doesn’t do anything for our industry.

“The number of non-compliant growers is not that large, but when you do have one that is non-compliant, the issue builds and builds and it’s not nice for the neighbours.”

She called it a process and wants to continue working with the city and the ministry to solve issues.