by Neil Carleton
When Cedar Hill neighbours and other concerned residents of Mississippi Mills gathered at Fulton’s Pancake House on Wednesday night, May 15, the proposed firearms training facility was being described as a moving target. Those in attendance, numbering nearly 90, learned that the original application of March 26, for a zoning by-law amendment, had been recently changed from 300 to about 4 acres. The sites of the proposed indoor and outdoor shooting ranges, to be operated at 1090 6th Concession, had also been relocated.
There was much to discuss in preparation for the scheduled public meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, in the Mississippi Mills Council Chamber, when the application will be considered by Council. Information about the original application was reported on May 12 in The Millstone, and is available here.
If their application is successful, it is understood that Jean-Francois Roy and Chantal Pelletier of Stittsville intend to develop a firearms training facility on the rural property of part lots 8 and 9, concession 5, parts 1 and 2 RP 26R-2068, Pakenham, Town of Mississippi Mills. Adjacent and nearby residents were shocked earlier this month to learn about the zoning application that could forever change their neighbourhood. The owners, they explained, had not stepped forward to discuss their plans.
Those who had since spoken to or met with Mr. Roy had some new information to present at the May 15 meeting.
- The Cedar Hill facility would actually be run by Millbrook. This is a company, with former members of the Canadian Special Operations, that provides training (pistol to machine gun, counter attack, etc.) to members of the Canadian military, law enforcement officers, and other security stakeholders.
- The owners of the property didn’t think noise would be a problem as the indoor range would be sound proof, and the outdoor range would be covered over at a later date. No commitments to this, or any details of support, have been forthcoming.
- The operation was being positioned as environmentally friendly because non-toxic ammunition would be used.
- Although at least one Cedar Hill resident had requested something in writing to explain the operations, so the community could understand what was being planned, nothing had been received from the property owners.
Since the first meeting of 60 or so Cedar Hillites and friends on May 8, at the Cedar Hill School House, area volunteers have continued their research on this threat to the community. At the federal, provincial, and municipal levels they’ve reviewed noise regulations, shooting range requirements, and the specifics of our municipality’s official plan. Their findings were shared at the May 15 gathering.
At both meetings it was pointed out that the proposed use of the land for a firearms training facility does not conform to the Town’s official plan. Heads nodded again last Wednesday that the rationale was clear and straight forward for Council to simply reject the application.
Environmental and other issues related to the application were reviewed by carefully prepared power point presentations. Wetlands are important and well documented on this property. Any proposed development within 120 m of a provincially significant wetland, as evidenced in the original application, would trigger an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The recently amended application seems to have relocated the shooting facilities outside this distance. Another question is the proposed access road. Available maps appear to place it across both a significant wetland and private land where access has not been granted. The known and probable existence of endangered and/or threatened wildlife species on the property would also trigger an EIA before the application could proceed further.
A preregistered delegation is limited to only a ten minute presentation about the application at the public meeting on May 21. Expect a standing-room-only turnout. Look for passionate, thoughtful, and well researched opposition to this application.