A meeting about the Pitt Meadows Gun Club is scheduled for Monday. (Contributed)

Pitt Meadows Gun Club meeting Monday

Shotgun club has been closed over noise, safety and environmental concerns

A public information session about the embattled Pitt Meadows Gun Club will be held on Monday at Pitt Meadows Heritage Hall.

The operation of the club was criticized by neighbours in late spring of 2017, as residents said the amount of shooting had increased at the club, located on 129th Avenue, where members target clay pigeons with shotguns.

Neighbours want to the club shut down over noise, safety concerns about the distances from shooting stands to public places, and environmental concerns about fallen lead shot.

Club members have been working with city hall since the summer to be able to re-open, and say they are determined to be good neighbours.

The city had testing of noise levels coming from the club measured, and those decibel levels will be part of the information session, which is scheduled for March 5 between 4:30-7 p.m. at the hall, located at 12460 Harris Rd. It will be a drop-in format.

The city said the topic will be proposed bylaw amendments relating to the operation of the club and shooting ranges in the city. City staff and members of the RCMP will be on hand to answer questions.

Mayor John Becker said the city deals with the issue of noise, the province with the environmental concerns of lead shot, and the federal government with licensing and firearms regulations.

“We’re dealing with the intersection of three different jurisdictions,” said Becker, and added that the city is bringing senior government to Monday’s meeting.

He said the gun club has been a legitimate operation for decades, and the city is looking for middle ground.

“We’re not trying to put our jackboot on the throat of the gun club and force them out of businesses,” he said, but added the city must “respect the rights of residents, to not feel like they’re living in a war zone.”

Gun club critics Shelley and Frank Vogel noted the meeting was supposed to address the 85 neighbours closes to the club and the club members, as per a council meeting on Dec. 5, 2017. She said the city has turned a neighbourhood dialogue into a public meeting.

“The meeting description is very vague and I am not aware of what the mail out parameters were…” she said in a letter to city councillors. “It talks about the amending of the bylaws without disclosing the sound test results or that council will be attending this meeting.”

“Why so secretive,” she said, adding none of the sound test decibel levels have yet been revealed to the public. “There’s no information about the proposal at all.”

The gun club is urging its members to rally to the cause.

“The time has finally arrived to show your support for our club,” said the club website. “The City of Pitt Meadows is hosting a public information session regarding shooting range regulations in order to discuss bylaw amendments relating to our club operations and shooting ranges within the community.

“Just by dropping into the info session anytime between 4:30-7 p.m. you will be helping our club get one step closer to reopening.

“If you have friends who also enjoy shooting at our club but are not members please encourage them to attend and show their support. Get the word out as this is our only opportunity to demonstrate how important our club is to members and the community!”

The gun club has a new “community information” tab on its website that shows its water quality sample results, with lead readings from November 2017 tests.

It also has a 19-page environmental stewardship plan for the club, which it says is based on the BC Wildlife Federation standards and best practices for lead management.

The gun club sits on a 20-acre site where it has operated for more than 40 years, and it was established at another location in 1946.

City staff has investigated lead contamination and management and shooting range best practices.

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