Langley Township councillor calls for blueberry summit

Proposal a reaction to refusal of provincial authority to consider ban

Councillor Kim Richter wants the Township of Langley to arrange a meeting of all B.C. communities with blueberry farms and their MLAs to discuss propane cannons.

The councillor made the call at the Monday, March 11 Township council meeting, in response to reports the municipal propane cannon task force will not be calling for a ban on the controversial noisemakers intended to scare birds away from berries.

Megan Dykeman, chair of the task force, told The Times a letter from the BC Farm Industry Review Board made it clear no ban would be approved by the provincial authority.

When Richter served notice that she will be formally asking the rest of council to approve a blueberry summit meeting, Councillor Bob Long objected, saying the the cannon task force has yet to formally file its report.

It was “totally inappropriate” to act before getting the report, Long said.

Richter said trying to form a coalition of communities affected by the blueberry cannons does not conflict with the task force.

“This is above and beyond their mandate,” Richter said.

The task force report will go to the Township Agricultural Advisory Committee on March 21.

Instead of a ban, the task force is expected to propose tighter regulations, including larger setbacks and less frequent firing near horses.

It wants a farm bylaw that would require blueberry farms to keep cannons a greater distance from horse farms, who have complained the noise is frightening their animals.

It would also reduce how often the cannons can be fired.

The bylaw would set escalating fines, $150 for a first offence, $350 for a second and $500 for a third offence.

The amount would not rise any higher after a third offence.

Farmers would be required to get a licence to use cannons and provide a bird management plan before one is granted.

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