Saanich pressured to ban bird cannons

Rarely used, but propane noisemakers help save crops, says farmer

When Canada geese were continually attacking blueberry crops at Beckwith Farm in 2010, the farm launched its bird predation plan – which includes a noise cannon.

“The predator kites and other visual deterrents had no effect on the Canada geese,” said Wayne Hopkins, president of Beckwith Farm. “These geese were landing and eating the leaves. They killed somewhere around 12,000 plants in a matter of a few days. It all happened very quickly, so we had to employ noise devices very quickly.”

One such device was a propane cannon, which, when fired, creates a 130 decibel bang to scare birds away. The birds aren’t too fond of the noise, and neighbours near the farm aren’t either.

“It defies common sense to use propane cannons as a bird deterrent 200m from urban homes in long established Saanich neighbourhoods,” reads a brochure from the Concerned Neighbours of Beckwith Farm organization.

“The noise generated by propane cannons firing 200m from urban homes is debilitating to a large number of residents … causing significant impacts to health, livelihood and happiness.”

No propane cannons have gone off at the Blenkinsop Valley farm since 2010, and Hopkins credits that to the predation management plan. Cannons are used as a last-ditch effort when visual deterrents and other audible devices don’t work.

But neighbours aren’t content that there’s a chance the cannons could go off again, at any time, in the event of a new flock of birds swarms onto the nearby crops.

Saanich councillors Susan Brice and Nichola Wade brought forward a motion at Monday’s council meeting asking staff to look at options regarding cannons to mitigate friction between neighbours and the farm.

“The two of us feel we’re very supportive of agriculture in Saanich, however it is an inappropriate mechanism to use propane cannons in such a proximate distance to residential developments,” Wade said.

The two councillors mentioned ongoing frustrations dealing with the provincial government, as the use of propane cannons comes under the Ministry of Agriculture’s authority, and the Right to Farm legislation trumps municipal bylaws.

“Anything that can be explored that’s going to give the neighbours in this area some relief is worth putting on the table,” said Coun. Dean Murdock.

Hopkins says Saanich’s intervening is all politicking, and he anticipates the municipality won’t be able to get far with the province.

“The fact is (propane cannons are) a last report, and unless Saanich or whoever has a better alternative as a last resort, I think they’re here to stay,” Hopkins said.

Council unanimously agreed to have staff look into options.

kslavin@saanihnews.com

 

 

Just Posted

Victoria student out $600 for lack of e-bike insurance blames confusing rules

B.C. regulation says e-bike motors must turn off if rider stops pedalling, or bike must be insured

Health Canada suspends Island pot producer’s licence following unannounced visit

Evergreen Medicinal Supply is working on “corrective action”

Saanich police ask for public’s help locating missing high risk youth

The 12-year-old was last seen before school on Monday morning

Flat tire, kindness of strangers, surprisingly inflate hope

Sooke mom and her daughters knocked on door of Bob and Norma Saunders seeking help

Sealand was much more than killer whales, says ex-employee

Former Sealasd trainer revisits Sealand of the Pacific in talk

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Should the province step in to upgrade the road to Bamfield?

The death of two University of Victoria students on a bus bound… Continue reading

35 of 87 dogs in 2018 Williams Lake seizure were euthanized due to behavioural issues, BCSPCA confirm

The dogs did not respond to the behaviour modification and remained terrified of humans

B.C. ‘tent city’ disputes spark call for local government autonomy

UBCM backs Maple Ridge after province overrules city

B.C. drug dealers arrested after traffic stop near Banff turns into helicopter pursuit

Antonio Nolasco-Padia, 23, and Dina Anthony, 55, both well-known to Chilliwack law enforcement

B.C. MLA calls on province to restrict vaping as first related illness appears in Canada

Todd Stone, Liberal MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson, introduced an anti-vaping bill in April

Most Read