'Loud and clear': Springwater pulls trigger on Sunday gun hunting

Almost 80 per cent of Springwater Township residents who responded to a municipal survey say they're in favour of local gun hunting on Sundays.

As a result, Springwater council passed a motion at this week's council meeting that will allow it in the township.

The decision will come into effect next April.

Coun. Danielle Alexander supported the motion, a decision she said surprised her.

Alexander said she identifies more with the trail-walking crowd who would prefer not to hear gunshots while out on a stroll, but after talking with residents and researching the topic, she says she changed her mind.

“There’s a very large number of regulations already out there with respect to when you can gun hunt in Springwater,” she said. “The majority of hunting in Springwater is on private property — you need permission from the owner.

“The Sunday piece is really a very dated regulation. It’s back to the days of when you were supposed to be in church on Sunday," Alexander added. "Your grocery store was closed. Your mall was closed.”

The fact that it hasn’t changed for hunting is a bit unfair, she said.

Alexander said gun hunting should be treated the same as snowmobiling — some folks find them to be a nuisance, but they’re not banned on Sundays.

“It’s an activity, and you may not agree with the activity or like the activity, but it is an activity a lot of people enjoy,” she said.

Coun. Matt Garwood came into the council meeting against the motion, but also changed his mind after hearing his colleagues debate the issue.

Garwood said he was "back and forth and really, right up until this conversation, I was still undetermined where I was going to go."

He said he was impressed with the number of folks who participated in the online survey and their arguments in favour of Sunday gun hunting.

The online survey was open for the month of September. Of the 334 Springwater residents who responded, 267 were in support.

Their reasons for supporting Sunday gun hunting were varied.

Some consider gun hunting a way of life and others just want to have the ability to gun hunt on their own property on a Sunday.

Some folks also said they hunt for food.

Those who opposed Sunday gun hunting cited safety concerns — stray bullets — and a desire to walk in nature without the sound of guns as reasons why council should maintain the status quo.

Springwater Mayor Jennifer Coughlin said the survey was the driving force behind her decision to support Sunday gun hunting.

“We had a survey that came back loud and clear from our residents and this is what they want,” Coughlin said. “(Sunday gun hunting) has been in every term. Every term of a new council people get excited thinking ‘this is the council that makes that change.’”

Council’s passing of Sunday gun hunting is the first step in the process.

Springwater Township must now notify the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) with a written resolution that the township wishes to support Sunday gun hunting in the municipality.

All of the applicable rules and regulations that gun hunters are required to follow the rest of the week will apply to gun hunting on Sunday.

Twice a year, on April 1 and Sept. 1, a regulation amendment is made to the provincial Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997, which adds the names of municipalities to the areas where Sunday gun hunting is allowed.

Typically, council resolutions received by Feb. 1 are included in the proposed April 1 regulatory update.

Wayne Doyle, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,