Firearm range allowed to stay despite complaints

County of Stettler council says a gun range can stay despite complaints from a nearby resident.

County of Stettler council says a gun range can stay despite complaints from a nearby resident.

In a letter to council, Doug Cumberland says the facility is increasingly noisy and unsightly and should be moved.

When he moved in, the fence was down and cattle roamed the area, he says.

“However, over the past years that has changed,” says his Nov. 1 letter.

“During the summer months the sound of the battlefield can be heard from sunup to sundown almost seven days a week.”

Cumberland also accuses the club of ignoring safety rules, such as having a warning system in place to alert people the range.

“It is a grave concern for myself and others with the total of safety procedures and regulation in the operation of this site,” he says.

Cumberland also submitted five letters of support for his complaint to council for its Dec. 8 meeting.

Council reviewed zoning and the development permit for the range, 20 km southwest of the Town of Stettler, but saw no need to take any action on the complaint.

“Nothing is really sticking out at us as a violation of what we have given them permission to do with their development permits,” said county director of economic development and communications Shawna Benson.

Council did ask the Stettler Rifle and Gun Club to provide proof that it was meeting federal regulations for ranges.

Cumberland could not be reached for comment.

Benson said residents living near the range at first supported it but for some that has now changed.

“In the last five years, they claim the activity has increased, the respectfulness of the people using it has decreased, and it is now an unsightly premise, and it’s loud and they didn’t know it was going to get that busy there.”

The county patrol went to check out the range but found nothing to warrant any action.

Garry Kunstman, the gun club’s secretary treasurer, said the gun range meets all federal regulations and members are aware of the safety rules.

“I guess the best way to answer you is we are an approved range. It has been inspected twice by the federal range officers and deemed to be approved,” he said.

The approval is valid until 2012.

Activity has increased at the range as the population has grown, he acknowledged.

The number of people using the range can vary from a handful to several dozen.

It is open seven days a week during daylight hours.

Kunstman said the club has only been made aware of one complaint and that was from Cumberland, who built a property above the range about four years ago.

The club turned the range 180 degrees to face away from his house at its own initiative several years ago.

Club members also offered to enclose the shooting line to cut down on noise but the offer was rejected by Cumberland.

The club would like to come to a compromise with their neighbour, but the range is operating as it should and is meeting all the conditions of its county development permit, he said.

“There’s nothing as far as legalities that we’re doing wrong. And if there are other people that are unhappy, they have not come forward,” he said.

The gun range operates under a long-term lease on land owned by former county Reeve Earl Marshall.

Cumberland’s five-acre parcel was subdivided out in 2005 and he bought it at a charity auction.