The County of Vermilion River has approved the request for an RCMP and enforcement qualifying gun shooting range and are beginning pursuing options.
However, it is not certain a new gun range will be built, said Vermilion River County Reeve Dale Swyripa.
“We’d like to see it operate with one of the existing gun ranges near Vermilion or Clandonald if we can,” said Swyripa.
“With the economic situation going on everywhere, we need to assist the operation of facilities and businesses. Building a new one is the last resort.”
Kitscoty RCMP Sgt. Corey Buckingham made the request during the June 9 council meeting, and the motion passed during the Protective Services section.
An RCMP firearms instructor for pistol, shotgun, rifle and carbine training, Sgt. Buckingham said recent local changes have created a need.
“In years past, we have used the Bonnyville range for qualifying for carbine and pistol as well as the Vermilion Gun Club for practice,” said Buckingham.
“They are no longer welcoming us at their ranges. Bonnyville will no longer allow us to do a carbine qualifying.
“On behalf of the RCMP we are hoping we can work with the County to set up a location that can work for all of us.”
Buckingham said he was in consultation with the Chief Firearms Officer and had been told that if they do have to build new, unlike public ranges, they will not need Section 29 approval.
This would exempt the county from meeting certain regulations because this would be a Law Enforcement Only range. According to Buckingham, the prospective range will meet their own RCMP safety requirements.
He said that a berm would be a major component with three kilometres of safe shooting distance and a width of approximately 400 meters.
“We want to look into the opportunities to see what land is available and whether those places fit the regulations to have a gun range in place,” said Swyripa.
The site would include a shooting area 100 metres in length by 50 metres wide, a structure to clean firearms, port o potties, parking for 20 vehicles, and a potential structure down the road.
“We are not looking for a free handout,” said Buckingham.
“We are looking forward to the County of Vermilion River building this range because it would service up to 10 detachments, bringing members from all over the area for practice. The range would also receive three or four weeks per year of full use. We would also be hoping to get users from Lloydminster, Onion Lake, and St. Walburg,” said Buckingham.
Council members said that to have a third gun range in the county seemed excessive, but Buckingham was concerned that even with modifications, that the current ranges may not meet their requirements for training purposes.
“It’s best to get more information. We want to make sure it is not going to cause issues down the road. We are going to see if the existing ranges would be possibilities with alterations made. We will continue to research possible locations and the potential cost involved but no additional information has been reported back as of yet,” said Swyripa on July 3.
Swyripa said there’s a need to find out whether RCMP members in the County could travel to ranges outside the county are using.
In addition, the CVR would have to find out whether there was a need to build a new one, and if they did, they would have to verify whether law enforcement from elsewhere would utilize it.