Sun Peaks bylaw sparks conflict

 | October 11, 2010

The Sun Peaks council passed a bylaw prohibiting the discharge of firearms within the boundaries of the municipality.

The bylaw was created for public safety after the council was informed of target shooting activity in the area.

Councillor Darcy Alexander brought two cross-country trail signs to a recent council meeting, one with 14 bullet holes and another with eight. Shots were also reported near Trail’s Edge and Bella Vista subdivisions. A local who was at the meeting attested she’s heard shots recently near her home.

This new bylaw supersedes the Wildlife Act which prohibits anyone from using firearms within 400 metres of any lift towers or buildings in the municipality.

“There was gunfire reported,” said Mayor Al Raine.

“Obviously in bush areas, that’s potentially dangerous with the number of people there hiking, biking and walking about.”

However, Chief Judy Wilson of the Neskonlith Indian Band said this bylaw infringes on their hunting rights.

“It’s gonna directly affect our hunters being more and more restricted in our hunting area,” she said. “It’s one of our main wildlife corridors in our hunting territory.”

“We’ll continue to hunt. We rely on that for food for our families.”
Chief Keith Matthew of the Simpcw First Nation said he’s fine with the bylaw.

“There’s a possibility that it would (have an impact), but we have to respect the safety of others. I don’t think my community members would, quite honestly, hunt within the municipal boundaries of another town or municipality.”

Raine said none of the people he talked to have seen First Nations hunters in the area for years, so the council didn’t think the bylaw would affect aboriginal hunting at all.

“People who live in the community or live on the mountain have never seen this activity. Yet if you listen to Chief Wilson, it sounds like it’s been (happening) on a regular basis.”

Sun Peaks recreational hunter John Hecimovic said the bylaw won’t significantly affect his hobby.

“I don’t think it’ll affect me. It’s a big mountain, right? It does make my hunting area a bit smaller, but I’m fine with it,” he said.

Raine also said there had been an informal discussion about exempting aboriginal hunting in the bylaw, which the council eventually decided not to include to avoid discrimination.

There’s a penalty of at least $100 and no more than $10,000 for those who don’t comply with the bylaw.