Blueberry cannons: Where do the candidates stand?

The Abbotsford News asked local candidates if they support a ban on the bird scaring devices.

A public hearing will be held on a proposal to increase the regulations on blueberry cannons.

A public hearing will be held on a proposal to increase the regulations on blueberry cannons.

Blueberry cannons have been a controversial topic for years.

Complaints about the noise made by the devices, designed to scare birds away from crops, have become more frequent as more people move close to rural areas.

Abbotsford council has been debating the possibility of tightening restrictions on use. However, some believe a full ban is needed.

Any decision on restrictions made by council would have to be approved by the provincial government.

The News asked Abbotsford’s provincial candidates if they support a ban on blueberry cannons.

Here’s how they responded:

Abbotsford South

Darryl Plecas (Liberal) gave a “qualified no,” adding new technology will likely be found to eventually replace the cannons.

Lakhvinder Jhaj (NDP) issued a written response that her party will “renew support for agriculture,” but also appreciates that this must be done with respect for the community as a whole.

John van Dongen (independent) does not support a total ban, saying options have to be retained, and favours enforcing tighter regulations.

Steve Finley (Marijuana) would not support a ban, saying farmland needs to be protected and productive.

Abbotsford West

Mike de Jong (Liberal) said because it is a localized problem, he would support any decision made by city council.

Sukhi Dhami (NDP) does not support a ban, at least not until affordable, effective alternatives can be phased in.

Moe Gill (independent) has voted against banning the cannons as a member of council. He would consider restrictions on use.

Stephen O’Shea (Green) doesn’t support a total ban, but thinks use should be limited.

Paul Redekopp (Conservative) believes the municipality should have the power to create a bylaw to restrict usage.

Abbotsford-Mission

Simon Gibson (Liberal) does not support a ban, preferring a cooperative resolution between residents, farmers and the government.

Preet Rai (NDP) said the NDP would work with municipalities to ensure farming practices work for both farmers and the community.

Aird Flavelle (Green) said he is in favour of the responsible use of propane cannons.

Don Stahl (Conservative) believes cannons should only be used on blueberry fields that are not near residential areas.

Wendy Bayles (independent) said she’d like to see a referendum on the issue, adding there are other ways to deal with the problem.

Marcus Halliday (Excalibur) does not support a ban, preferring restrictions and penalties.

Roman Bojczuk (independent) supports a ban.

Patricia Smith and Kerry-Lynn Osbourne – both from the Excalibur Party – could not be contacted.