Print Edition: May 7, 2014
Students will no longer have to study to the sound of gunshots at UFV’s CEP campus when construction starts on a new indoor firing range in fall of 2015.
Currently, the RCMP uses an outdoor firing range across from the new Agricultural Centre of Excellence, a training facility UFV agreed to preserve when it bought the property in 2006.
Although UFV has worked hard to moderate the effect of the firing range on campus, soundproofing windows and negotiating a ceasefire during exam periods, executive director of facilities and campus development Craig Toews notes that the firing range is not conducive to academic life. UFV has been lobbying for years to have an indoor firing range built, which Toews emphasizes is a group effort supported by all parties involved.
“[UFV] has been lobbying for the common cause,” Toews says. “The [RCMP] commander, the commissioner, our local MPs — they’re all onboard with trying to get an indoor firing range because [an outdoor range] isn’t consistent with … a university campus.”
Toews has spent years collecting complaints from students, faculty, and the public to convince Ottawa of the importance of funding a new indoor firing range. Combining these complaints with additional factors, such as the presence of animals now on campus in the agricultural building, project lobbyists were finally able to persuade the federal government and a few months ago the project was funded.
When construction begins in 2015, the firing range will be moved across from UFV’s Trades and Technology Centre. While the range will still be on campus, Toews says that the move will not affect the students’ quality of learning in these buildings.
“The firing range doesn’t pose as much of a problem with the Trades and Technology Centre because a lot of the trades students are working in fairly noisy environments [already],” he notes. “Part of their safety equipment is earplugs.”
The Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO) will also be taking the lead in developing this project, working with local groups and labor forces to ensure that building will be done in a timely and effective manner. Noting that Ottawa was initially hesitant to give a local group control over the project, Toews believes that CEPCO’s management role will ultimately allow government funds to be used in the best way possible.
“The fact that CEPCO is taking the lead on the project is a really positive piece of [the puzzle] because they work in the private world and can deliver the project much quicker and much more economically than, say, Government Canada’s Public Works,” Toews concludes. “From [UFV’s] perspective, we’re excited that they’re leading it … because we know that local players will be delivering. They know all the dynamics here and all the contractors and sub-trades to leverage [this project] locally.”