After hearing from residents and farmers for and against propane cannons, Abbotsford city council decided on Monday to develop a bylaw to regulate the use of noisemakers used to scare hungry birds away from blueberry fields.
Hundreds packed city hall and 12 speakers - including upset residents, berry growers opposing changes, representatives from the B.C. Blueberry Council and Ministry of Agriculture - addressed the council.
Many cannon critics said they preferred an outright ban but urged city council to develop stricter guidelines and hefty fines for violators. Blueberry growers told council cannons are a necessary tool for crop protection and quieter options, such as netting and hawking, were too costly.
Debbie Etsell, B.C. Blueberry Council executive director, urged the city to develop a bylaw so it could act as the enforcement agency and issue fines to deter farmers who violate Ministry of Agriculture guidelines.
A total of 97 complaints were filed with the BCBC this year, and 20 centered around one particular grower, she said. Council will establish a committee that will consult with all the stakeholders. It is expected to report back to council in December.