By Mike Archer. Once again, Abbotsford councilors are wasting time and money floundering around in areas which are beyond their jurisdiction. The 21 months it took council to get back to where it started on the blueberry cannon issue couldn’t have been better scripted by Charlie Chaplin.
The blueberry farmers hold an incredible amount of power at the council table because of their financial power and the voting block they claim to represent. The decision to wade into an issue which is not even within our jurisdiction was, as in every other case when Abbotsford gets into jurisdictions other than those it is legally entitled to occupy, destined to fail because … we have no jurisdiction and … well … we aren’t very good at convincing anyone we’re all that bright.
For those new to the issue. In order to protect their crops from birds a small number of blueberry farmers are making life miserable for their neighhbours by firing blanks from specially made cannons to scare away the birds. City council has been trying, unsuccessfully, to solve the problem by creating a bylaw to stop the blueberry farmers. Problem is … it is not municipal jurisdiction.
The lines being drawn are between those councillors who want to accomplish something for the 50 or so residents who are complaining and the much more powerful blueberry farmers (and the three or four farmers who continue to offend) whose interests are being protected by John Smith, Les Barkman, Moe Gill and Bill MacGegor.
Since Abbotsford is one of only four jurisdictions in the province which requires the approval of the Minister of Agriculture before any bylaw can be adopted to ban anything related to agriculture in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), – the other three jurisdictions are Delta, Township of Langley, and Kelowna – council was forced to get sneaky in the way it dealt with the issue once it decided to take it on.
Abbotsford does not have a bylaw which regulates bird scare devices, which, as in so many other areas our councilors love to get involved, the City has no authority or power to do anything about (with the exception of trying to resolve matters through the Good Neighbour Bylaw).
So; for the sake of trying to convince three or four farmers who violate provincial guidelines and make life unlivable for 50 or 60 of their neighbours, Abbotsford council has been diddling away with a variety of scenarios, sending carefully worded bylaws to the Ministry for approval and being rebuffed because, a) it is none of their business and, b) all they have been able to send to the Ministry is a sneaky way of banning cannons outright which the Ministry won’t allow.
Aside: When you aren’t particularly bright, it isn’t wise to try and trick people into thinking so. Someone is inevitably going to discover that you don’t know what you’re talking about.
For some reason, council defeated a bylaw that the Minister would have signed, which would have made it so the farmers would have paid registration fees, paid hefty fines for any violations, and the City could have asked the Minister for additional changes if there were still ‘holes’ in our bylaw that did not deal with the issues, which would become self-evident once we actually had a bylaw to enforce.
21 months to get right back where we started. Is it too much to ask that the men and women we pay to look after our interests stop wasting our time and money on issues other than the water and sewer infrastructure they have left virtually unattended for three consecutive administrations, or finding ways to grow the community so that, like our neighbours, we could start reducing costs, taxes, fees and water rates instead of doubling them, and concentrate on what they are paid to do.
John Smith’s Spectacular Failure has cost his friends and neighbours hundreds of millions of dollars and a worldwide reputation from which it will be very difficult to emerge. The preponderance for both he and many of the other councilors who have helped him shape our city over the last three administrations to go far beyond their legal authority and get the City involved in ventures none of them understand has got to stop.
The #1 reason this city can’t grow is that our infrastructure deficit is so bad that we couldn’t handle economic growth even if we could interest companies, developers, business and industry to move here.
Instead of fixing or evening maintaining our water and sewer infrastructure we spent all of Abbotsford taxpayer’s money building vanity projects and bridges. Now we can’t fix our water and sewer pipes because we don’t have the money.
Do your jobs. Fix the water pipes. Fix the sewer pipes. Stop saving sharks; battling homeless people with lawyers and police; helping companies in the BC interior to continue polluting our airshed; spending hundreds of millions of dollars on projects you don’t understand and please … please stop acting like you know what you’re doing.
We all understand that you don’t have a clue what you’re doing. It is high time someone told you.[Aging Councillors: Please return to the top of the page and re-read until you get it]
Cover photo from bannthecannons.com