cbgccw dejosvjy · 2021-03-11

Gun bylaw jams at council

A bylaw that would have placed greater restrictions on hunting activities within town boundaries has been sent back to municipal staff for review.

At the Wednesday, May 6 meeting, council was prepared to pass a bylaw regulating the discharge of firearms that could have prevented hunters from operating in any areas deemed “urban” within Innisfil, such as Alcona, Churchill, Gilford and sections of Big Bay Point.

But residents appeared before council to tell them the staff report they were considering contained out-of-date information.

“Innisfil is unique with its rural and urban mix. Hunting is a safe activity,” stated Darren Parfit of Alcona. “On the surface, this bylaw seems to cater to developers. I would like to see the matter deferred.”

The outdated bylaw was first raised in May 2008 by development lawyer Marvin Geist, who wanted council to ban hunting within Leonard’s Wetlands in north Alcona.

If hunting were banned in the wetlands it could end its “provincial significance” status, which would make it easier to develop near the area.

Planning director Robert McAuley told council last month safety was the
primary goal of the proposed bylaw not whether it would make
development easier.

Greg Farrant, government relations and communications manager of the Ontario Federation of Anglers & Hunters also spoke in favour of deferring any decision. He pointed out there were already federal and provincial statutes covering hunting, and council should take into account the “frequency of complaints and number of convictions” regarding hunters locally.

“No one should hunt near a residential area, or near a school,” Farrant said, “but hunting should be able to co-exist with other public uses.”

Firearms enthusiast Ben Valentine noted the firearms discharge bylaw as presented, could possibly include construction tools such as air-powered nail guns and pneumatic drills.“There are very few good municipal bylaws dealing with firearms discharge,” Valentine said. “I’m hoping we can create the best bylaw we can.”

 Council agreed and sent the bylaw back to be revised, with the input of Valentine, Farrant and South Simcoe Police Service.