Marksmen Club seeks new location for shooting range

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NORTHEAST TOWN—Council for the Northeast Town heard from a group representing the Manitoulin Marksmen Club on February 8, led by spokesperson Sam Nardi, asking council to consider a gun range in the municipality.

Mr. Nardi explained that the Marksmen Club had a range near Campbell’s Drive-In in Gordon/Barrie Island, but the owner of the property passed away and the land was sold, causing the club to look for a new home.

The Manitoulin Marksmen Club started in 1984 and, since that time, no reportable incidents have occurred, Mr. Nardi explained to council. The range was also open to police and conservation officers to use, he noted.

The range carries $5 million in liability insurance as well as an added $5 million for each member.

“We have a spot just east of (Don Eadie Construction’s) pits secured,” Mr. Nardi continued. (The pits referenced by Mr. Nardi are those just off the Bidwell Road, near Highway 540 and the former Cup and Saucer entrance).

Mr. Nardi told council that the province’s chief firearms officer would approve the site once it is approved by council. The club would then begin using that location, building berms and stations, followed by another inspection by the firearms officer. A re-inspection of the range would occur every two years after that.

Mr. Nardi provided a list of possible concerns council might have, such as a danger to hikers on the Cup and Saucer trail as well as noise.

The shooting location is 1.53 kilometres from the trail’s east bluff lookout, it was explained.

A recording was then played of a 12-guage shotgun being fired from the site location on a windless day as would be heard from the east bluff lookout. A slight ‘tick’ noise was barely audible to this reporter.

Councillor Barb Baker asked why the chief firearms officer only approves the site after council gives it the nod. Mr. Nardi said this was the way they operate.

Councillor Al Boyd asked how many members the club has at any given time. Mr. Nardi said the club averages between 60 and 70 members but noted that any time he’s been to the (former) range, he’s been the only person there.

Councillor Bill Koehler voiced his support, if only for the fact that it would be good to have a place to sight in one’s rifle for hunting season.

Councillor Baker asked if a site-specific zoning bylaw change would be needed for a gun range to proceed. CAO Dave Williamson said this would be the case, which would also allow for public comment. But before that can happen, the Marksmen Club would need to apply.

Councillor Michael Erskine asked if the club had made an application yet, to which the answer was ‘no.’

As is council’s tradition, the range was brought up again at the following council meeting, but as the club had yet to make a zoning bylaw application, there was no discussion.