The District of Mission is tightening up regulations on where firearms can be discharged and increasing the penalty for anyone caught violating the bylaw.
Council passed the first three readings of the new law which classifies all areas of the municipality as one of four zones.
The majority of the district is marked as Area A, where shooting is prohibited.
Area B covers Matsqui Island and the Silverdale area west of Nelson Street between the CP tracks and the Fraser River. Shotguns with shot only are permitted there.
Area C, described as the Hoover Lake area, allows the use of a shotgun with shot or single projectile.
There are two areas described as D. The first is located in the West Stave Lake area between logging roads Rockwell and Kearsley (accessed off Florence Lake Forest Service Road), and the second is north of Cannell Lake. Both these areas will accommodate the use of rifles or shotguns.
Target shooting continues to be prohibited in the district, except at a legal shooting range.
The use of firearms is no longer permitted near Sayres Lake, Bear Mountain or the area near the Cannell Lake Community Watershed.
After some debate, councillors also voted to ban the use of firearms on Red Mountain, except at the Mission and District Rod and Gun Club on Dewdney Trunk Road, across from Mill Pond. Red Mountain is roughly the area between Dewdney Trunk Road on the east and Shaw Street on the west, and from the Mission landfill to Keystone Avenue.
There are 25 kilometres of trails on Red Mountain, said Mayor Ted Adlem, who favoured excluding the area from firearm use.
“It’s a recreation area more than, I think, a hunting area.”
Adlem said the rod and gun club is a “positive” organization and the intent is not to harm it.
Coun. Nelson Tilbury agreed, but noted club members do feel isolated.
Coun. Tony Luck was the only councillor opposed to removing the area, which was listed as part of area C in a map presented to council.
“I suggest a trial period,” said Luck. “I think eventually the club will feel the squeeze, but not because of this, but because of development. I think we have to look for a different area for them anyway.”
Adlem noted the club is surrounded by Mission’s tree farm, and Coun. Dave Hensman agreed development in the area is “a long time away.”
Rod and gun club members are never the problem, said Hensman.
“I know not many of us (around the council table) hike around Red Mountain, but it’s very popular and that’s my concern,” said Adlem.
“I’m not worried about future development, I’m worried about how things are today,” agreed Coun. Jenny Stevens.
Fines for violating the bylaw will increase from a minimum of $100 to $500.
The new boundaries were proposed by the Discharge of Firearms Bylaw Task Force, which was formed last summer after Mission council suggested banning the use of firearms throughout the district, except at the Mission and District Rod and Gun Club. At the time, council, district staff, and RCMP were concerned the use of firearms in the Stave Lake area was not compatible with other recreational uses (non-hunting) being promoted, such as visiting the Zajac Ranch, camping at Sayres lake and the proposed Tim Horton Children’s Foundation Camp.
The task force included representatives from council, RCMP, Mission forestry department, as well as stakeholders and user groups, such as the Zajac Ranch, Mission and District Rod and Gun Club, Mission Horse Club, Right Nuts ATV club, and BC Wildlife Federation.
The proposed bylaw is available in the May 5, 2014 agenda on the District of Mission website, www.mission.ca.