Sooke looks to tighten gun rules

The proposed bylaw would further regulate the use of bows, crossbows and firearms

District of Sooke is considering changing its existing firearms bylaw.

The proposed bylaw would further regulate the use of bows, crossbows and firearms within municipal boundaries.

There’s also new rules for hunting geese on farmland.

The proposed legislation is aimed at tightening the existing bylaw and ensure public safety, said Patti Rear, district deputy corporate officer.

“The bylaw does not deviate from the current ban of firearms use within municipal boundaries. Rather, it clarifies the exceptions according to provincial and federal regulations and acts,” Rear said.

The proposed bylaw does allow exemptions to the prohibition, including farm operations use, recreational use of bows, low velocity air guns use, and use by appointed officers while acting in the line of duty. Those that may be able to discharge a firearm or bow within the municipality must do so in compliance with the bylaw, provincial and federal legislation, and possessing appropriate permits.

Anyone in contravention of the bylaw faces fines of up to $10,000

The bylaw change was spurred after Juan de Fuca Electoral Area director Mike Hicks asked several municipalities in Greater Victoria to amend their firearms discharge bylaw to allow the expanded hunting of geese on farmland.

The rewrite was expanded when residents asked for more clarification on the bylaw, such as the inclusion of the definition of a bow.

“There has been a number of complaints of [unauthorized discharge] of firearms and bows in certain areas around the municipality,” added Gabriel Joseph, the district corporate officer.

But not all district councillors were on board with the changes.

Coun. Brenda Parkinson said she was against the use of any pellet guns or bows within municipal boundaries.

Coun. Kevin Pearson, while supportive of the changes, said he didn’t believe the bylaw would control the goose problem that hampers farming operation, pointing out the birds would likely move to public fields like schoolyards.

“We continually put bylaws in place when more complicated than the issue we’re trying to solve. It’s a very complicated bylaw,” Pearson said.

Council is expected to give the bylaw final adoption at its Jan. 9 meeting.