Debate rages over opening of air gun range in Pierrefonds-Roxboro

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WATCH: Residents in Pierrefonds-Roxboro say they're worried about an air gun shooting range that just opened up in their neighbourhood. As Global's Phil Carpenter reports, Pierrefonds Mayor Jim Beis says he's looking to revise the borough's bylaws so these kinds of businesses will no longer be located near people's homes.

Zoning laws in Pierrefonds-Roxboro might be changed in the wake of a debate over the opening of an indoor air gun range in the area.

A debate raged on social media for weeks to the point where some people who have commented online say they’ve been threatened.  In a message to Global News, one person said she is afraid for her safety.

People who object to the shooting range say an establishment like the Ushoot range has no place in a residential area.

“I haven’t been there, I’ve never been there and I don’t believe I will ever be there,” says borough Mayor Jim Beis.

READ MORE: Man sent to hospital after shooting range incident in Winnipeg

He’s not supportive of these kinds of businesses and thinks an industrial park is a better location.

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“[I want to] see how we can work with our services to make sure, if it’s something that’s not desired in our community, that we don’t have these kinds of business, or others like it, opening up in Pierrfonds-Roxboro.”

Some fear the facility is unsafe and sends the wrong image, calling a poster on the front window (that shows a photograph of a man aiming an air rifle at balloons) insensitive, given the recent mass shooting in Florida.

“For some folks, it’s concerning that they have to see this day in and day out,” Beis explains.

But others point out that things are being blown out of proportion.  Furthermore the guns, they say, just shoot pellets at targets and balloons indoors.

READ MORE: RCMP carbine training at local shooting range upsets quiet community near Regina

Christina, the owner agrees.  She’s surprised by the intensity of the backlash and doesn’t want her last name used for fear of reprisals later. She says these rifles and pistols are similar to BB guns.

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“A firearm is categorized as something that [shoots] over 500 feet per second, something that has ammunition.  “We have none of those.”

Furthermore there are even instructors on site to make sure that people don’t hurt themselves or others, she explains.  As for the poster outside, she’s sorry some people are offended.

“When I chose that poster I made sure that there was balloons on it that it was colourful, just so that people don’t get scared.”

Her other facility in Verdun has been around for two years.  She says she was encouraged to open another.

“Most of out clients actually came from the West Island and they were travelling a long way to get to downtown,” she tells Global News.  “So a lot of them actually told me, ‘why don’t you open a place in the west island?'”

The range opens to the public in seven days.  She hopes people will come by and see for themselves what happens there.

Beis says he’s surprised by the intensity of the debate.  In spite of his own objections he points out that the business does meet current zoning requirements and thinks the facility is safe.  He says residents shouldn’t worry about getting hurt.

“We’re gonna work with our communications department to make sure that we inform the public as to the type of facility that it is, and make sure that they understand that it is an enclosed, confined area and that they are firing air gun, BB gun type weapons,” Beis said.

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