After a divided council failed to pass a bylaw that would greatly limit the use of propane cannons in Abbotsford, a revision with greatly reduced restrictions is scheduled to go before council on Aug. 26.
The original draft bylaw was struck down in July. That version aimed to shorten hours of use, lessen the amount of shots allowed per hour, and increase the distance between the devices and neighbouring homes, kennels and livestock.
The use of propane cannons to scare birds away from berry crops is protected by the provincial Right to Farm Act and farmers must follow ministry guidelines. The city does not have the authority to enforce those guidelines. To further regulation cannons, the city must create a “farm bylaw” that requires approval from the ministry of agriculture.
The revised farm bylaw sets out regulations closer to ministry standards, while allowing the city to enforce the specifications and fine farmers who do not follow them.
The report to council states that the intent of the amended bylaw is to ensure compliance with ministry standards, but adds that if compliance does not increase, then the city “will be in a better position in the future to request more stringent limits in its bylaw.”
The revised version does not need to go to public hearing, as the original bylaw went to public hearing on June 10.
If the revised bylaw passes, cannons will be allowed to operate from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., in accordance with ministry guidelines, whereas the original proposal restricted the hours to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The original bylaw would allow cannons to fire four times per hour for single-shot devices, and three times for multi-shot devices. The revision will allow single-shot devices to fire up to 12 shots per hour, and multi-shot up to 11 times.
Some changes from the ministry guidelines will remain, including the proposal of registration fees. Originally, the bylaw including a $50 operation fee and $25 per device, while the new bylaw will a flat registration fee of $125 to operate cannons.
The revision will also impose a progressive fine structure, with fines ranging from $200 to $1,000. Before handing out fine, bylaw staff will provide written warnings and educate the operator regarding the city’s bylaws.
The city has also planned to strengthen the bird predation management plan, which seeks to control the population of starlings which feed on berry crops.
Council will vote on whether to send the revised bylaw to the ministry of agriculture for approval.