Spruce Grove Gun Club files appeal over its closure

The Spruce Grove Gun Club will go to court in an attempt to reopen its range, beginning another chapter in the ongoing fight with nearby residents.

Determined nearby residents ready to fight back in court

Spruce Grove Gun Club spokesman Bill Newton said the club has done everything possible to make the range safe and to keep noise from bothering its neighbours. (Laura Osman/CBC News)

The Spruce Grove Gun Club will go to court in an attempt to reopen its range, beginning another chapter in the ongoing fight with nearby residents.

Parkland County's Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) revoked the range's development permit in November after Spruce Grove residents raised concerns about noise and safety.

The residents said the sound of gunfire was nearly constant, and they feared stray bullets after finding holes in nearby houses.

Now the club plans to appeal the SDAB`s decision in court.

"There has to be some recognition of legacy land use and legacy land rights," said Bill Newton, the range's spokesman.

He said the gun club has been in place since 1972, but in the last several years homes have been built downrange.

Members of the range and other clubs across the country have contributed funds to pay for the legal representation required to appeal the closure.

The club has also started a petition that currently contains more than 4,000 signatures, and a letter-writing campaign was launched, urging county officials to intervene on behalf of the range.

Newton said some of the support has come from other range organizations, which also face uncertain futures because of encroaching development.

The club asked the court to allow the range to reopen until the court of appeal decides if it will hear the case but was denied.

The request for an appeal of the SDAB's decision will be heard on Jan. 21.

Cheryl Ball, who lives near the range, has been leading residents's efforts to keep the gun club closed for good. She said the people who live in the area have already put in countless hours opposing the club's development permit.

Now, she said, residents are considering hiring lawyers for the upcoming court battle.

"It's just a continuation of this saga that doesn't seem to end," Ball said.

She's thankful for the peace and quiet the neighbourhood has enjoyed since November when the range officially shut down, but she's apprehensive about the prospect of making her case in court.

"All we can do is cross our fingers and hope that if this goes ahead, that that's it," she said. "Because if they get turned down at that level, that is it."

Even if everything goes the way the gun club hopes, it will likely be a long time before anyone can shoot there again.

If the appeal is heard and accepted, the case will likely have to go back to the SDAB for a final decision.


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