Cloverdale resident Jim McMurtry (inset) and other residents (shown in a 2009 protest) have long tried to silence blueberry cannons

Cloverdale resident Jim McMurtry (inset) and other residents (shown in a 2009 protest) have long tried to silence blueberry cannons

Surrey man sues city over blueberry blasters

A Cloverdale man, fed up with apparent inaction to quell blueberry-cannon noise, is suing the City of Surrey for "unanticipated expense and emotional harm."

  • Aug. 23, 2011 6:00 p.m.

A Cloverdale man, fed up with apparent inaction to quell blueberry-cannon noise, is suing the City of Surrey for “unanticipated expense and emotional harm.”

In his claim, Jim McMurtry accuses the city of neglecting “to discharge its duty to enforce its own bylaws.”

“The city turns a blind eye to many of its bylaws, from monster homes and truck parking on the ALR to cosmetic pesticides and the destruction of active bird nests. More to the point here, it neglects to ever fine a farmer that violates its noise law on the use of propane cannons,” McMurtry writes in an email to media.

But city solicitor Craig MacFarlane doubts the suit – in which McMurtry is seeking partial reimbursement of funds spent on property he bought in the U.S. to escape the noise – would go far.

“He claims that he had to buy a vacation home in Washington State because he can’t stand the noise of blueberry cannons,” MacFarlane told Peace Arch News Wednesday.

“I don’t think the taxpayers of Surrey would want to subsidize somebody’s vacation residence. That’s what he’s asking for.”

McMurtry, a teacher who lives near 168 Street and Highway 10, lodged his complaint at the provincial small claims court in Surrey Friday.

In his claim, McMurtry alleges the city has done nothing to protect his family from the cannons, “even when their use contravenes the city’s own noise bylaws.”

According to the bylaw, a noise-scare device may be used to protect berry crops provided certain conditions are met, including: the device is only operated between 6:30 a.m. and noon, and 3-8 p.m. (or dawn to dusk, whichever is lesser); no more than one device is operated per two hectares of crop; the device is only used for wildlife predation management and not prior to the onset of bird damage or after the crop is harvested; single-shot devices fire no more than once per five minutes; and, the device is not located within 150 metres of a neighbouring residence within the Agricultural Land Reserve, or within 200 metres of a neighbouring residence located outside the ALR.

Offenders are liable to a fine of up to $2,000 per offence.

But McMurtry said the city has yet to issue any fines, despite concerns raised by residents over the years, and despite a 2010 decision by the Farm Industry Review Board that McMurtry says proves farmers routinely violate noise bylaws.

According to the decision – McMurtry v Sekhon, Jan. 29, 2010, posted on the FIRB website – respondents’ use and management of propane cannons was not consistent with guidelines established regarding firing frequency, monitoring and relocation of cannons on farms operating near 168 Street and Highway 10. They were ordered to modify their practices accordingly.

MacFarlane said the “very few” complaints fielded by the city are investigated and typically are referred to a liaison with the Growers’ Association of B.C., who contacts the owner of any cannons reported to be malfunctioning.

Because the cannons’ use comes under B.C.’s Right to Farm Act, there is little more the city can do, he said.

“The provincial legislation doesn’t allow us to interfere in farming operations,” he said. “It’s out of our jurisdiction.”

McMurtry blames the city’s continued inaction to enforce its own rules on officials not wanting to lose farmers’ votes.

“The city continues to duck from issues because it places electoral support from the farm industry above its own law,” he said by email to Peace Arch News.

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Through his lens, Doug Cook captured this picture of the Fraser River, Mount Baker, an eagle, and even the Golden Ears Bridge on a sunny fall afternoon. The photo was taken from the wooden walkway leading down to the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport float plane dock. (Contributed photo)
Friends of Semiahmoo Bay to host virtual World Wetland Day event

Webinar event to feature six speakers, to be held Feb. 2

Pindie Dhaliwal, one of the organizers for the Surrey Challo protest for Indian farmers. She says organizers were told by Surrey RCMP that the event was not allowed due to COVID-19. Organizers ended up moving the protest to Strawberry Hill at the last minute. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Indian farmers rally moves as organizers say Surrey RCMP told them they couldn’t gather

Protest originally planned in Cloverdale, moved to Strawberry Hill

One of the Choices Lottery grand prize packages includes a home located at 16730 19 Ave., Surrey. (Contributed photo)
Two South Surrey homes featured in Choices Lottery

Tickets on sale now for BC Children’s Hospital lottery

Fraser Health has declared a COVID-19 outbreak at a Surrey high-intensity rehabilitation unit, Laurel Place. On Dec. 22, 2020, Fraser Health said four patients and two staff members have tested positive for the virus. (Image: Google Street View)
Fraser Health says COVID-19 outbreak over at Laurel Place in Surrey

Health authority declared outbreak over Jan. 16

(Photo by Kevin Hill)
40 cases linked to Surrey Memorial Hospital COVID-19 outbreak

Fraser Health says two death are associated with the outbreak

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

sdf
Another Mission student arrested for assault, in 2nd case of in-school violence this week

RCMP notified of local Instagram page with videos (now deleted) showing student assaults, bullying

A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read