Proposed changes to Mission's firearms discharge bylaw were soundly criticized by a large crowd of mostly hunters June 19.
The District of Mission council is contemplating banning all shooting throughout the municipality, except at the Mission and District Rod and Gun Club (MDRGC).
"The primary issue for this council is the problems encountered in the interpretive forest area," said Mayor Ted Adlem in an earlier interview with The Record. "We're dealing with an enormous cost for policing."
The interpretive forest is located on the west side of Stave Lake, near the Zajac Ranch for Children, and close to the proposed Tim Hortons Children's Foundation camp.
Adlem said many people will not go into that region because of the number of individuals shooting guns and the associated litter left behind.
The hunters who spoke said they are not the ones causing the problems, and this proposed bylaw change would not solve the trouble.
"I grew up here and I grew up hunting," said Bill Cameron. "We don't do what's going on up there. Illegal shooting is the problem. [This amendment] is not going to stop illegal shooting."
He suggested the fine for littering be increased to $5,000 and that this bylaw is punishing hunters and those families who count that activity as part of their culture, a sentiment expressed by several speakers out of the crowd of about 150 people.
First Avenue business owner Dave Kunstler, who runs High Caliber Services Corp., said he moved to Mission six years ago for the outdoor culture. He said he has collected more than 700 signatures of people opposed to the suggested bylaw change.
"Hunters are not the problem," he said. "Allow shooters and hunters a place to shoot."
Kunstler also noted many businesses in Mission derive income from firearms enthusiasts coming through the district as they purchase gas, food and ammunition.
"This will be lost of the ban goes ahead."
Some of the speakers agreed that discharging a firearm should not be permitted near Zajac and Tim Hortons camps, but requested council refrain from a complete ban.
MDRGC's communications director Ron Tarnawski said the club would like some areas kept open for hunting.
"We recognize there are enforcement issues in one of the rural areas and that a total ban may have an effect on this issue, however, whatever rules are in place, they too will need enforcement," he said. "If this is one of the reasons why a total ban approach is being considered, then the result is a wholesale loss of a recreational opportunity in the District of Mission because of the actions of a few individuals."
Three readings were given to the bylaw on May 21. Council will be getting a staff report July 2 with recommendations for next steps.