Proposed gun range near Perth shot down again

A proposed private gun range in eastern Ontario has been blocked again, this time by the Ontario Land Tribunal.Martin Whyte has been trying to open the business on Rideau Ferry Road in Drummond/North Elmsley at the site of a former police training range.The renovation contractor and hunting guide told CBC in 2022 he thought there was a pre-existing agreement allowing him to take over the range, and argued it wouldn’t cause undue disruption because residents of the area were already accustomed to the sound of gunfire.But in comments both to CBC and at crowded council meetings, residents said they’d tolerated the noise from the police training range because it was in the name of public safety. They said they feared a private range would create more noise for longer periods.The township council denied the rezoning application about a year ago, and Whyte appealed that decision.The Ontario Land Tribunal, previously known as the Ontario Municipal Board and the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, has a mandate to resolve such municipal land-use disputes.’Significant concerns’ with owner’s applicationIn its decision earlier this month, the tribunal said Whyte, who represented himself during the proceedings, failed to build an adequate case and made errors in his application. Whyte did not call expert witnesses during the hearing.The township and its planning manager argued Whyte’s proposal is incompatible with current land-use provisions. At the same time, concerns have been raised about the proposed gun range’s effect on the mental health of local residents, businesses and even water quality.Planner Brady McGlade noted police only used the training range between 18 and 38 days a year, and issued advance notice to nearby residents.An old Ontario Provincial Police detachment sign is seen at the former training range in 2022. The range was built in the mid-1990s and only used a few dozen times a year. (Stu Mills/CBC)The tribunal decided that Whyte wouldn’t be able to “overcome these significant concerns” and dismissed the appeal.On Tuesday, Whyte told CBC he feels disillusioned and said he didn’t get a fair opportunity to mount an argument in favour of the business.”A layperson should be able to be heard,” he said.Whyte said he hasn’t given up on his gun range and is now reviewing his options.

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