Township passes blueberry cannon restrictions

Fine, registration and setback requirements must still be approved by province

Kim Madill tells Township council 'anything with a heartbeat and ears' will find blueberry cannons disturbing. She was speaking on a proposed bylaw that would impose restrictions on the use of the propane noisemakers by farmers, but not the outright ban some residents have demanded.

The new blueberry cannon restrictions may not be much, but they are all the provincial government will allow in Langley Township.

On that, both council and critics were agreed Monday night, as the new rules were approved.

The provincial Ministry of Agriculture, which has the final say on any farming regulations, has made it clear that any attempt to ban the controversial bird scare devices or set decibel limits will be overturned under right-to-farm laws.

That left the municipal task force that designed the new law with few options beyond the mix of requiring registration of cannons, increased setbacks from horse farms, advance notification and signage it came up with.

Kim Madill was one of three people who spoke to council to say the new rules lack teeth.

Madill, who lives near farms with operating cannons, described how the devices go off hundreds of times a day.

“The nearest cannon to us shakes the pictures on our walls,” Madill said.

“Anything with a heartbeat and ears cannot function.”

The regulations were approved by a 8-1 vote, with Councillor Kim Richter opposed. They still have to be cleared by the provincial Ministry of Agriculture before they can take effect. The hope is approval will come in time for the 2013 summer planting season.

Meanwhile, at Councillor Bob Long’s suggestion, council voted unanimously to ask the new provincial minister of agriculture, once one has been named, to meet with council, the Agricultural Advisory Committee, and the Propane Cannon Task Force “to explore elimination, or significant reduction, of bird scare devices.”

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