Council defers final decision on hunting ban within District boundaries

Topic will again be raised when public can gather at council meetings

The District of Houston has paused its plan to effectively ban hunting within its boundaries until such time as open meetings of council can be held again.

Council did give first and second readings to an amending bylaw May 5 but due to precautionary measures enacted with the COVID-19 pandemic, council meetings are not open to the public.

A return to open meetings would then give additional opportunity by members of the public to comment on the amending bylaw.

As it is, council has recently invited public comment and solicited opinions via an on-line survey.

The amendment bylaw given first and second readings would repeal a section of an existing bylaw which permits hunting on properies larger than two hectares.

It would also clarify the use of various kinds of weapons within district boundaries.

“The public expressed concern that the definition of weapons [in the current bylaw] prohibited less dangerous weapons such as slingshots and air soft guns while hunting with rifles was technically still allowed,” a briefing note for council members indicated.

“This amendment proposes that council remove the complex definition of weapon and focus on regulating only firearms, crossbows and longbows,” the note continued.

“The policing of these other weapons, such as knives and explosivs, would remain under the RCMP of enforcement when necessary.”

Council members began considering changes to its existing firearms and weapons bylaw after receiving complaints concerning the discharge of firearms on private property in residential areas, trespassing on private property to hunt and general conceerns about misconduct and threats to public safety.

A first amendment brought to council late last year to repeal the section of the existing bylaw permitting hunting on property of more than two hecatares in size was defeated with District staffers then asked to compile for review firearms bylaws in place in other communities.

Staffers then gathered opinions and the District hosted a forum which took place Feb. 25.

First and second reading were given to the bylaw. Council has also committed via resolution to defer third reading until such a time as when members of the public are able to participate in open meetings of Council.

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