A couple who recently moved to South Surrey’s Morgan Creek neighbourhood say noise from a nearby blueberry farm is keeping them up at night.
Shortly after moving from Vancouver into their new home in late March, Ross Paterson and Melissa Modenesi said they heard a loud, chopper-like sound they thought was coming from an active police chase or training exercise.
“It went on all night long,” the couple told Peace Arch News last week.
After a few nights spent lying awake listening to the same noise, the couple got into their vehicle at 4:30 a.m. to see where it was coming from. They learned it was the sound of two wind turbines being used at a nearby blueberry farm.
After filing complaints to the Surrey RCMP non-emergency line, the City of Surrey, and now an official complaint with the BC Farm Industry Review Board, which requires a $100 payment, the couple has learned more details about the turbines.
While the Minister of Agriculture is aware of one complaint regarding the farm, the BC Farm Industry Review Board had not yet received or processed a formal complaint as of Friday (April 16).
However, the couple shared with PAN an email exchange between them and BC Farm Industry Review Board case manager Sara Theisson.
In the exchange, Theisson said the province’s berry specialist Mikayla Roberts contacted the farmer and learned that he purchased two wind turbines to prevent frost damage on his blueberries, as he had two years of near crop failures.
The turbines, which have been running since mid-March, have been calibrated to turn on when the temperature dips below 0C.
The email notes that Roberts suggested the farmer adjust the equipment to start at -3C, as the variety he farms can withstand the colder temperature.
“The nights are also warming up, so the turbines should turn on less frequently or not at all from now on,” the email exchange said.
Paterson and Modenesi suggested the farmer “should be slapped with a huge fine” or be forced to shut the turbines down.
“The reality is we’re going to have the same problem when we have temperature drops year over year. It’s going to happen if someone doesn’t look at this and say this is a non-acceptable form of practice,” Modenesi said.
Raising issue on the turbines is “like a public service to the neighbourhood,” Modenesi said.
“We’re in a high net-worth neighbourhood,” said Modenesi. “It’s different if you decide to move to an apartment, or condo, or house by a subway station or something because you know what you’re getting. You know that’s going to be a noise that you’re going to be hearing on a regular basis.”
BC Farm Industry Review Board executive director Kirsten Pederson told PAN via email that when the board receives a complaint, its role is to determine whether or not the disturbance was caused by “normal farm practice.”
Normal farm practice, as described by the Farm Practices Protection Act, is a practice that is accepted customs and standards established and followed by similar farm businesses under similar circumstances. The practice in question can make use of innovative technology in a manner consistent with proper advanced farm management practices.