Gun range under fire

Shooting could soon resume at an indoor gun range that fell silent following a noise complaint from a nearby resident.

Shooting could soon resume at an indoor gun range that fell silent following a noise complaint from a nearby resident.

Red Deer’s Municipal Planning Commission voted on Wednesday to authorize the city facility’s operation as a discretionary use, conditional upon steps being taken to reduce the sound emanating from the building.

The situation is also to be reviewed in June to determine if further restrictions are needed.

The range, which is operated by the Red Deer Fish and Game Association, is located at the rear of the Red Deer Public School District’s maintenance building at 4230 58th St. — directly west of the Memorial Centre.

Believed to have been in use since the late 1930s, after it was developed by the Canadian military, the range has been leased by the Fish and Game Association from the school division since the 1980s. But when nearby resident Jackie Scott complained to the city about noise, it was determined that a municipal permit had never been issued for the shooting range.

Despite having provincial approval to operate, the gun range was ordered closed.

In its application to the city for the required development permit, the Fish and Game Association said noise outside the range had been measured at 67 decibels.

That level is comparable to the noise produced by light urban traffic, the commission was told.

However, Fish and Game Association member Rob McCoy acknowledged that the sharp, sporadic sound of gunfire differs from vehicle noise.

Scott, who issued the original complaint, confirmed that this was the issue for her.

“It’s a constant rat-a-tat-tat-tat when you’re trying to enjoy your evening in your back yard.”

McCoy said his association was sympathetic and was prepared to work with Scott to address the noise issue.

“We do really, really fully intend to try and baffle the sound down as much as we can.”

He emphasized the safety of the gun range, pointing out that a safety officer is on site whenever shooting occurs, and that there has never been an incident there.

Scott said she isn’t worried about the safety of the range.

She also said that she’d never heard sounds of shooting from the concrete building until this past summer, despite having lived at her current location for many years.

After some discussion, it was determined that this was probably due to the fact that RCMP officers and sheriffs had used the facility during that period.

“It’s not our normal hours,” said McCoy.

Members of the Fish and Game Association expressed concerns that a delay in reopening the gun range would adversely impact junior shooters who are training for competition.

Councillor Buck Buchanan urged that the necessary permit be issued as quickly as possible, but deputy development officer Vicki Swainson said the process — including public notification and expiry of the appeal period — would take at least a month.

The Fish and Game Association must also obtain a firearms permit as a condition of the commission’s approval.