Gun club long predates park
I read with interest the full page article by Sarah Simpson, “Neighbours aim to oust gun club from park” stating that the Cowichan River Neighborhood Association president, Bob Kopp, cites noise and environmental concerns as their two main issues for wanting to see the Cowichan Fish and Game Association find a new home.
Why should the Cowichan Fish and Game Association find a new home when they were in fact the organization that built the section of trail that is now so popular with recreational users? CFGA members built the trail from 1960 to 1969, originally for anglers but hikers and naturalists were welcome to use it. According to my research, approximately 5 km of the trail is still maintained by CFGA members. The property only became a part of BC Parks in July of 1995, while the CFGA has been on the site as long as I can remember and according to a spokesman for CFGA, since 1937.
According to BC Parks, the concerns raised by Bob Kopp and his association have been addressed. The requirements for acceptable noise levels have been met and environmental and health concerns regarding lead contamination were found to be minimal. In addition, I know that the CFGA has changed their hours and parameters for discharging certain firearms to try and address some of the noise issues, so the statement that the club “basically treated the residents with indifference” becomes suspect and is unfounded.
Interestingly, in my search on the internet for information about this issue, Bob Kopp’s name came up as a one time member of the CFGA, in fact sharing his pattern for a portable target stand in their newsletter. As a presumably former member of the club, was shooting less noisy and lead more environmentally friendly? Is there perhaps more to this story?
Having been involved with the building of a local park and having sat on the board of directors for it, I know how much work is involved in beating paths out of the bush and building recreational areas that everyone can enjoy while keeping neighbours happy and vandalism at a minimum. In my experience, it is the very few conscientious people that do the hard work of building these sites, that allow access to wilderness areas otherwise inaccessible to or unavailable for the general public to enjoy.
Having reviewed the trail map, I can’t see that the CFGA site adversely affects the use and enjoyment of the park. In fact, the impact of significantly increased traffic by recreational users likely has a more detrimental effect on the area than the CFGA has ever had.
I commend the CFGA for their ongoing stewardship and hope that they get the appreciation they deserve for developing and maintaining this part of the trail and a facility dedicated to the safe handling and use of firearms. Perhaps BC Parks should offer them a free lease, as I’m certain that just having the facility there provides a level of park security.
Let’s all let BC Parks know how much we value the Cowichan Fish and Game Association and their long history of responsible residency in the Cowichan Valley and allow them permanent status within the park.