It’s now illegal to hunt within the District of Houston’s boundaries.
The move on the part of the District of Houston council follows complaints last year from property owners and residents of weapons being discharged on private property within residential areas, hunters trespassing on private property and complaints of threats to public safety.
An amendment, passed last week by the District council, was then made to the District’s 2014 firearms and weapons bylaw which did away with the ability to hunt on properties larger than five acres (two hectares) within District boundaries.
A second amendment to the 2014 bylaw, also passed last week, tightens the definition of what constitutes a weapon.
During a public forum earlier this year to discuss possible amendments to the 2014 bylaw, residents were concerned that “the definition of weapons prohibited less dangerous weapons such as slingshots and air soft guns while hunting with rifles was technically still allowed,” explained District of Houston communications officer Holly Brown in a background paper prepared for council.
“This amendment proposes that Council remove the complex definition of weapon and focus on regulating only firearms, crossbows and longbows,” she added.
That amendment reads “no person shall discharge a firearm, longbow or crossbow within the boundaries of the District of Houston.”
“The policing of these other weapons, such as knives and explosives, would remain under the RCMP for enforcement when necessary,” Brown explained and reduce the strain on the District’s own bylaw enforcement’s service.
Third reading of the amendments to the 2014 bylaw was given by council at a special meeting Sept. 22 and then adopted at another special meeting on Sept. 24.
In considering this course of action, council used social media and an online survey in addition to a February forum to gauge public reaction and take comments.
First and second reading of the amendments followed in May but council deferred third reading until last week so as to ensure people were aware of the amendments and to recognize that COVID-19 social distancing prevented public attendance at council meetings.