Outright ban on propane cannons is needed

The stategy the task force is proposing will not mitigate damage caused by propane cannons.

Editor: At the final meeting of the six-month long Task Force on Propane Cannons on Friday, March 1, the voting members chose to ignore the wishes of the residents and others who spoke so passionately and eloquently at the Jan. 17 town hall meeting about the effect cannons and other noise scare devices have on their lives, their family and their livestock, particularly horses.

The task force reviewed a staff report replete with comforting words and five options.

Option one was an outright ban on the use of propane cannons. The majority of people who participated in the town hall meeting advocated an outright ban on the use of propane cannons.

The task force was told this is not a viable option. In 2011, B.C. Farm Industry Review Board (BCFIRB) released a report on options for ensuring effective and appropriate regulation of propane cannon use.

The BCFIRB report goes on to talk about “exhausting all other available means for managing cannon conflicts.” Not surprisingly, the members chose Option 4B — “Consider a farm bylaw (modified).” This is simply the existing (ineffective) guidelines, with a twist.

An example of this may be a 300 metre setback from the residence of a neighbour with horses, rather than the current 200 metres, and possibly increased setbacks on horse trails.

Let’s now look at the science of this strategy. A Purivox Carousel Triplex V cannon (the red cannon you see around Langley) fires a blast of 146 decibels directly at a horse working with its owner in an adjacent field.  Before the proposed change, the cannon would have to be 200 meters away from the house, not the horse.

Assuming the horse was right next to the house, the cannon blast would arrive at the horse and its handler at approximately 125 decibels. With the distance increased to 300 metres, the noise is only reduced by one or two decibels, an imperceptible difference.

Given that 120 db can cause permanent hearing damage in young children and that horses have very sensitive hearing, one can only imagine what a possible outcome could be. The horse bolts, the handler and/or the horse may be injured and a few seconds later, the cannon blasts again.

In a typical 20-acre blueberry field with up to four cannons (the current allowed maximum), the number of blasts could be as high as 132 per hour or one every 27 seconds. This assumes of course there is only one field nearby.

How has this task force effort, initiated by council last September, served the public interest? Like so many past acts of this council, they go through the motions, solicit public input, and then take the path of least resistance.

In this case, they direct the task force recommendation for a watered down bylaw to their legal counsel, Bull Housser & Tupper. The appointed lawyer crafts an unenforceable and easily digestible submission to the applicable provincial ministry, they receive the obligatory sign off and another bylaw joins the long list filed on the Township website.

On March 21 at 7 p.m., the Agricultural Advisory Committee will receive the task force’s recommendation. This will be the last opportunity to reinforce comments made at the town hall meeting. Circle this date on your calendar and be there to support a ban on cannons.

Kevin Mitchell,

Langley

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