A gun club has shut down its range near Olds and threatened legal action in response to a newly passed Mountain View County noise bylaw.
In a statement on its website, the Mountain View Marksman’s Association (MVMA) says the bylaw, which was passed on Wednesday, “essentially states that if a single shot is fired it will trigger fines up to $10,000 and jail time up to 12 months.”
As a result, the club has decided to take its lawyer’s advice and shut down and lock the range gates indefinitely.
“In the coming days and weeks, we will foster our legal response to this selective bylaw that denies our continued legal use of the MVMA property,” says the notice, which includes a photo of a sign posted at the range entrance.
In the meantime, the club is looking for other venues.
Mountain View County Reeve Paddy Munro said the gun club’s claim that it will be slapped with fines with the first shot fired is wrong.
The bylaw is only meant to ensure that the gun club is responsive to the concerns of the community, he said.
The county would only take action if it receives complaints about noise from the range, which is about six km west of Olds.
Munro said the club is just trying to be dramatic to make its point.
“And that’s just the way they’ve played all along. Instead of working with us and getting a development agreement that would work for everyone, they have always taken this aggressive position.”
The county respects the right of the club to exist and hold events, he said.
“We’re not saying that this shouldn’t be a gun club. We’re just saying it shouldn’t be a gun club with a thousand members from the City of Calgary where they have totally dominated our local members.”
For 25 years, there was never any problems between the gun club, nearby residents or the community as a whole, he said.
That changed when the gun club dramatically boosted the number of events and shooters.
“It was like being in downtown Baghdad. There is a concern, a sincere concern, by all the neighbours.”
The county is undeterred by the threat of legal action and its costs.
“If that’s what we’ve got to do, that’s what we’ve gotta do. We’ve got a responsibility to look after our people,” he said.
Alberta’s Municipal Government Act clearly gives the county power to regulate noise and staff checked out the bylaw with legal experts.
“We never do anything like this without thorough investigation.”
A representative for the marksman’s association could not be reached for comment on Friday.