Rocky View County (RVC) no longer provides municipal regulations surrounding the use of weapons within its borders, following council’s repeal of RVC’s Firearms Bylaw at a regular meeting May 28.
During a previous meeting May 14, council granted first and second reading to a bylaw rescinding the Firearms Bylaw but did not receive unanimous permission to proceed to third reading, holding the process until the next meeting.
Third reading was carried May 28 by a vote of 5-4, with Reeve Greg Boehlke and Couns. Crystal Kissel, Samanntha Wright and Kevin Hanson opposed. Wright urged her colleagues to reconsider their position, advocating to fix the bylaw rather than “throw the baby out with the bath water.”
“Eliminating this bylaw does not consider a range of perspectives,” she said. “In a county as diverse as RVC, that is a fundamental principle – we are not one-size-fits-all, so why are we attempting this one-size-fits-all solution?”
Several councillors, including Jerry Gautreau, Daniel Henn and Deputy Reeve Al Schule, reiterated their belief the bylaw was both flawed and redundant.
“Right from the get-go, I was 100 per cent opposed to [this bylaw],” Gautreau said.
According to a press release issued by RVC, after the bylaw was passed in September 2018, “the document has created questions on the need for a County bylaw, the boundaries of no-shooting zones and the broad use of the term ‘weapon,’ which extended the bylaw’s scope beyond guns.”
With the bylaw repealed, weapon and firearm use in RVC will still be regulated by federal and provincial regulation and, according to the press release, it will remain unlawful to discharge a weapon within 183 metres (m) of any occupied building unless authorized by the owner. Likewise, it is unlawful to have a loaded firearm in a vehicle, discharge a firearm after dark, or shoot from or across a provincial highway.
The County will also remove “No Shooting” signs that have been erected around RVC. Although the bylaw was repealed, Boehlke questioned whether removing the signs – which Wright and Kissel said were welcomed by residents in their divisions – was necessary.
“There is no real mechanism for County staff to deal with any complaints than to direct the complainant to contact the RCMP in the event of a shooting violation, and we are sometimes criticized for creating regulations that we try to implement through voluntary compliance and/or complaint-based,” said Richard Barss, acting executive director of Community Development Services. “This would be a step away from even that, where we have signs with nothing behind it, from a municipal perspective, to enforce that.”
Following the bylaw’s repeal, Coun. Kim McKylor made a motion arising directing RVC administration to begin the preparation of a new Firearms Bylaw.
“I think there’s areas of the county that benefit from a little more structure with regards to firearms, and there are areas in the county that really do not require this,” she said. “I think we need to do a wholesome look at this, and we may need to have division-specific bylaws.”
The motion was questioned by councillors on both sides of the issue.
“I’m really wondering if we’re using taxpayers money wisely if we’re going to reinvest in this again,” Schule said. “Trying to start a firearms bylaw just after we killed one – I’m sorry, it just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Kissel said it seemed like council was “spinning [its] wheels” and didn’t think the new motion was “worth the time or effort,” while Wright said she would “reluctantly” support the motion only because residents in her division wanted some sort of bylaw regulating firearms.
McKylor’s motion ultimately failed 4-5, with opposition from Boehlke, Schule, Henn, Gautreau and Coun. Mark Kamachi.