Gun range noise fought

Residents living near a shooting range near Olds say noise levels are out of hand and steps must be taken to reduce the increasing din.

Residents living near a shooting range near Olds say noise levels are out of hand and steps must be taken to reduce the increasing din.

Joel Thompson said the range has been there for 25 years and posed an occasional annoyance, but noise levels have taken off in the last three or four years. Competitions in the last couple of years have drawn a 100 or more shooters.

“It’s become a huge operation.”

Thompson and other landowners recently aired their grievances before Mountain View County, which is considering a noise bylaw. The Mountain View Marksman Association, which runs the range, also made a presentation.

Thompson said the association has pledged to investigate what steps can be taken to reduce noise.

“The end result we’re hoping for is they get some engineering done and some sound reduction measures in place.

“What we have there currently is unacceptable.”

Thompson said he doesn’t know if sound levels can be reduced to neighbours’ satisfaction, but he is willing to see what the association proposes.

Area landowners also want to know what the future intentions of the marksman association are. The range that once drew a few dozen local hunters is now a facility serving a club that has grown to 1,200 members.

“What’s going to happen down the road? Is it going to be 5,000?”

An association spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Doug Plamping, chief county administrative officer, said council has put the draft noise bylaw on hold until the two sides have had a chance to try to work out there differences.

“Both groups wanted an opportunity to see if they could work out some arrangement and some rules before the council imposed a noise bylaw that would set times of operation and so forth,” he said.

The proposed bylaw deals with all noise issues, not just gun ranges. However, a section on operating hours for handgun and rifle ranges was considered but then dropped by council.

County council also voted to direct staff to explore a bylaw that would regulate gun ranges and address hours of operation, the numbers of shooters and the types of shooting allowed.

Similar bylaws are in place in other municipalities, said Plamping. It is expected to take about four months to review other bylaws and come back to council with a proposed set of rules. While the federal government regulates the operation and safety standards for gun ranges, municipalities can regulate the hours.

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