Sask. community up in arms over RCMP assault rifle training
Drew Erickson thought he knew what he was getting into when he built his home in Stone Pointe Estates in 2011.
Stone Pointe is an upscale neighbourhood located east of Regina. The community has about 65 homes, many valued at more than a million dollars. For the last two summers, it has also had some very noisy neighbours.
Across the road is the Regina Wildlife Federation and its gun range.
‘If I didn’t want to listen to a train, I wouldn’t buy next to a train track.’– James Gopfrich
At first, Erickson’s family heard what they expected: small calibre fire and the odd shotgun.
That all changed one summer morning in 2015.
“We awoke, about a quarter after seven, to what sounded like automatic rifle fire: very loud, rapid succession.”
The gun fire could be heard in Emerald Park and White City two kilometres away.
Erickson, who lives a few hundred metres away, says it’s like living in a war zone.
He said the gunfire woke his wife, who is from South Africa, and sent her into a panic.
“When she heard that noise when she was a kid, that meant somebody nearby was in peril,” Erickson explained.
It’s not just his wife either. When the matter was brought before the RM by Erickson and a group of concerned community members, it was mentioned some members of the group had immigrated to Canada from a war-torn country.
Erickson said a man and his wife heard the gunfire on their first day in the community.
“She effectively thought she was back in a war zone,” he said.
“This is not why they came to Canada. This is not why they came to live in a rural community.”
Erickson says closing doors and windows does little good. He says the RCMP needs to find another range, away from the community.
“Our community is at the point where we’ve done our time, we’ve taken our turn, this is two summers in a row, and if it’s a third it’s unacceptable.”
Wildlife Federation unsympathetic
Across the road, in the clubhouse belonging to the Regina Wildlife Federation, there is little sympathy.
Groundskeeper James Gopfrich doesn’t understand people who buy a house next to a golf course and then complain about golf balls hitting their house.
That, he said, is what it’s like at the RWF’s gun range, which has been operating for more than five decades.
Gopfrich feels residents should have known better before they built their house as close as they did.
“If I didn’t want to listen to a train, I wouldn’t buy next to a train track, especially if I had any idea it was there,” said Gopfrich.
The RWF is a non-profit organization. They have about 650 members including a few who live in Stone Pointe.
Gopfrich calls the RCMP’s rental agreement more of a fundraiser. They don’t make much from it, but there’s a feeling of goodwill at the club, allowing law enforcement to train to combat crime.
“We thought it was an excellent number one community service, not just for the community here, but for western Canada.”
Gopfrich believes there are very few who are actually complaining about the RCMP carbine training and those few are out to see the gun range shut down.
“Why should we have to uproot a community service,” Gopfrich asked.
Gopfrich believes the complaints are from a small section of the community, adding he hasn’t heard any complaints from club members about the noise.
Representatives from Stone Pointe, the Regina Wildlife Federation, RCMP and the RM of Edenwold will attend a special meeting on Wednesday afternoon at the Balgonie Multiplex in an attempt to reach a solution.
The RCMP and the RM of Edenwold declined to comment on the noise complaints until after the meeting.