Directors don’t bless gun range

Some regional district officials say they don't have enough information on the rural Lumby plan

Plans for a private shooting range are proceeding through the bureaucracy but without political endorsement.

Regional District of North Okanagan directors agreed to send a non-farm application in rural Lumby to the Agricultural Land Commission Wednesday. But a motion to provide the applicant with a letter of support, died in an 8-6 vote.

“I’m not ready to support something I don’t have all of the information on,” said director Doug Dirk.

“The fact that the neighbour hasn’t been talked to (about noise and other concerns) is an issue for me.”

However, others rallied behind taking a stand.

“This is an economic benefit to the region,” said director Mary-Jo O’Keefe.

Michael O’Rourke wants to build the range at the five-kilometre mark on Burnyeat Forest Service Road in Trinity Valley.

The facility would be on 1.48 hectares of a 129-hectare site. The land was previously timber and is now used as pasture, but only a small portion is within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

“It’s not a farmable piece and because there would be a covenant, he won’t be able to use it for anything else,” said director Kevin Acton.

The maximum distance available for shooting would be 1,000 metres.

“It would be nice to have a spot where you can do long-range shooting,” said director Eugene Foisy, adding that the facility would provide a safe environment instead of people just going into the woods to practise or sight guns.

O’Rourke says the closest neighbour is more than a kilometre away and all measures would be taken to address safety and noise concerns.

“I don’t want any troubles. If I lived there and it sounded like World War Three every day, I’d be upset too,” he said.

There are only two other facilities in B.C. that provide a 1,000-metre firing range and O’Rourke says the RCMP and military are interested in using his property.

“There is a niche for this sort of thing,” he said.

If the ALC approves non-farm use, O’Rourke will then have to pursue rezoning from  the regional district.