Burke Mountain hunting and fishing club targets new location

photo supplied

They’ll need a home on a new shooting range.

With development inching closer and closer, the Port Coquitlam & District Hunting & Fishing Club is targeting a new location. Club president Les Staff spoke to Coquitlam council Tuesday afternoon about the club, its plans, and why the Coquitlam-based club is called the Port Coquitlam & District Hunting & Fishing Club.

New housing projects seem to “march up the hill,” getting closer to the Burke Mountain club, Staff explained.

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“We know that Hazel-Coy will ultimately provide a finality to the club,” he said, referring to the city’s plan to add 950 homes and approximately 2,750 new residents to the area.

The reference to the Hazel-Coy plan in the city staff report raised a concern for Coun. Robert Mazzarolo.

Discussing the issue during the evening council meeting, Mazzarolo noted there was some skepticism among area residents regarding whether council would listen to their concerns regarding the potential development.

“What just concerned me a little bit here is that the report reads like it’s going to happen,” Mazzarolo said. “Is this a foregone conclusion, as the residents say?”

While the area is identified for future growth, the plan will have to be approved by council before any shovels hit the ground, city staff explained.

The club has reserve funds set aside for the day when they need to remediate the land they’ve occupied since 1956, Staff told council. However, he explained that he wanted to “start a conversation” with the city regarding a relocation plan.

“To be very frank with you, we do not want to wind down our club,” Staff said.

Besides sport shooting enthusiasts and archery students, RCMP officers, West Vancouver police officers, and emergency response teams all train at the club, Staff told council.

“Without this club, the training that goes on for first responders will happen in Mission or Abbotsford or Chilliwack,” he said. “The demand is exceeding the capacity now. I can’t imagine what it would be like when you take our ten ranges out.”

The club operates on provincial land, Mayor Richard Stewart noted.

“When the province sells land near you for redevelopment, it doesn’t leave us many choices,” Stewart said.

The city must balance the needs of accommodating Metro Vancouver’s ballooning population by providing more housing while recognizing the importance of the longstanding club, Stewart summarized.

The Burke Mountain area was initially laid out, “long before any of us was on Earth. That was completely unworkable and has since been adjusted,” Stewart said.

While Coquitlam voted to support the continuance of the club’s lease with the province, Stewart noted that was ultimately a stop-gap measure.

“I think it’s something we’re going to have to wrestle with over the next couple of years to try to figure out long-term what the solution is,” Stewart said.

The solution may be nearby, according to Staff.

“There are potential areas to the northeast of us that may not be in the development plan at this point,” Staff said.

Stewart then asked Staff, somewhat tongue in cheek, “Have you ever been in Port Coquitlam?”

Staff explained the club was formed in Port Coquitlam but settled in Coquitlam.

Stewart returned to the club’s name during the evening meeting.

“They have never actually been in Port Coquitlam although they have adopted that name, perhaps thinking that it was more rural and less sophisticated,” Stewart said.

Related: The case for and against (and against) a municipal handgun ban

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