Reckless gun users take note — the backroads of the Fraser Valley are now largely off limits.
The Province announced this week that it is restricting gun use in areas within the region where indiscriminate shooting is damaging habitat and creating serious safety concerns. The restriction was announced through the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
B.C. has updated the Wildlife Act regulation to create “no shooting” zones within 400 metres of select roads on non-municipal Crown land within the Fraser Valley Regional District. The changes apply to recreational shooting and target practice and will not affect licenced hunting and trapping, or impact First Nations’ traditional rights.
The ministry acknowledges that this is a popular recreation area, and says the increase in recreational shooting is posing risks to public safety. In the past year, wildfire crews were forced to abandon fire suppression activities due to firearms activity and there have instances of unsafe shooting towards cabins and recreation sites. The change in regulation was requested by the Fraser Valley Regional District and local RCMP and is supported by the District of Mission, the City of Abbotsford, the Conservation Officer Service and numerous First Nations.
The government is taking aim at those who ignore the restrictions, with some hefty fines and even potential jail time.
They start at $50,000 and six months in jail for a first offence, and as much as a $100,000 fine and a year in jail for subsequent convictions.
Recreationalists have long complained about the messes made by reckless gun users on Chilliwack area backroads.
Jason Lum, chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District and a Chilliwack city councillor, praised the new regulations.
“It’s not unusual for homeowners to find bullet holes in their windows and cars, while hikers, campers, and boaters have reported near misses with target shooters. We look forward to working with the province to ensure the continues to be a destination of choice for responsible outdoor enthusiasts, while cracking down on those who would choose to abuse and desecrate our wild places.”
Laurie Throness, MLA for Chilliwack-Hope thanked the FVRD, First Nations, and the RCMP “for their work with the Province to implement these regulations that will help keep residents and outdoor enthusiasts safe.”