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Gabriola gun club, residents reach settlement

Executives of the Gabriola Rod, Gun and Conservation Club hope members come back to the range with a two-year long legal battle with neighbours now over.

The gun club and Gabriola residents reached a settlement agreement this month, ending a civil suit that’s spanned close to two years.

The suit filed in 2012 with the Supreme Court of B.C. against the club and the province, saw 12 people seek interim and permanent injunctions against the use of firearms at the range. They claimed gun noise was causing them mental distress, fear and anxiety.

Court documents show residents are now willing to consider shooting a reasonable use of the property and no longer a nuisance if the club takes action to reduce noise, the hours it’s open and rounds fired.

Resident David Young said they are pleased with the opportunity to work with the club, which has hired an engineer to work on sound mitigation. The only thing the group isn't happy with is the agreement to call off the lawsuit and never to launch it again, despite not knowing whether measures to quiet gun noise will be successful. It's a clause “we are worried about,” he said.

Gabriola Rod, Gun and Conservation Club director Marie Brannstrom says executives on the board are also satisfied  with the deal, which offers certainty and a chance for both parties to move on.

The clubhouse needs rebuilding after it was razed in 2012 and executives are looking for a chance to rebuild membership. Range membership took a dive over an earlier decision to eliminate shotgun sports and the conflict with neighbours, falling to 90 people by the end of 2012. The club, opened since 1974, had previously peaked at 160.

“No one wants to go up to a range when it’s under a lawsuit for nuisance ... some members have been staying away just waiting for whether or not this is settled,” said Brannstrom, who hopes the club can rebuild relationships.

The changes required under the new agreement will see the club investing an estimated five figures into sound abatement measures, including those recommended by an acoustic engineer. The club will also construct a pistol shed with built-in sound mitigation measures, close twice a week and restrict centrefire firearms to 50 rounds a day.

“Increasing the sound absorbing capabilities of the sheds I think is an excellent idea because as we move into the future, there will be more development in the neighbourhood and, yes, we have to manage our sound footprint. That’s only smart,” Brannstrom said, adding that gone are the days when people can shoot as much and as loudly as they want.

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