Print Edition: August 21, 2012
The RCMP firing range on the Canada Education Park campus grounds is causing a lively debate between UFV staff and students. Those attending the Chilliwack campus for the summer semester were not pleased to hear gunfire at such a close proximity while studying in the building. “It is kind of unsettling if you don’t expect it,” UFV student Ana McConnell said. “I think you can get used to it, but it’s always going to catch you off guard from time to time.”
Speaking with Craig Toews, executive director of facilities and campus development for UFV, brought to light the situation of the CEP integrating their facilities with the RCMP. “A couple of years ago,” Toews explained, “UFV was invited by the RCMP to participate in their master planning exercise and learned that they are planning to build a large indoor firing range on their property.” With the RCMP planning to build a soundproofed firing range on UFV property in the near future, this would benefit not only the RCMP, but other safety agencies at CEP as well. The plan for building the new facility has run into a few roadblocks, however, while they are waiting on the project’s funding. A form has been submitted to Ottawa requesting permission to build, as well as the financial backing to carry through with the construction. A solution will have to be found in the near future for the RCMP, as the lease for the facility they are currently using expires in 2016.
Alan Stokes, director of facility services for UFV, mentioned that even in the current conditions, the gunfire is kept to a minimum at certain times. “The RCMP are cooperative in working with UFV to adjust their schedules when UFV has requested cease-fire for special events.” It’s an agreement that the RCMP and UFV will have to make due with for now, even if some students are unhappy with the conditions.
Some students and faculty at the agriculture building have reported difficulty carrying on a conversation while the firing range is in use. It has begun to raise concerns about how disruptive the gunfire may be when classes are in session this fall. While the full implications are still unclear, McConnell mentioned that she believes the gunfire may deter students from wanting to attend classes at the new Chilliwack campus.
Stokes took a more optimistic stance, noting how the affiliation with the national police force benefits students. “UFV’s Criminal Justice program has a very strong and successful relationship with the RCMP and other law enforcement agencies,” Stokes said, “We should be proud to have the RCMP and Canada Services Border Agency (CSBA) as our neighbours.”
So if you hear gunfire at the CEP this coming semester, rest easy knowing it’s the good guys (not the bad ones), who are pulling triggers.