There was a collective sigh of relief at the RCMP’s Pacific Regional Training Centre (PRTC) Tuesday morning as it was formally announced that the guns will go silent.
The disruptive sound of gunfire from the PRTC’s current open air range has long been the bane of the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) students and faculty, Vedder Crossing residential neighbours and Rotary Trail users.
“This has been a long time coming,” said Supt. Michel Legault, officer in charge of PRTC said about the $19 million in federal dollars to build the new indoor firing range.
Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl was at PRTC to announce the funding for the state-of-the-art facility on behalf of Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney.
“That noise will be a thing of the past,” Strahl said.
The 4,000-square-metre building (see artist’s rendering below) will have two 16-lane, 50-metre ranges that uses “some of the most advanced techniques in sound abatement,” according to Insp. Ken Burton, administration officer at PRTC.
Construction on the new firing range adjacent to other PRTC facilities at the corner of Keith Wilson and Tyson roads is expected to begin this summer and be completed by December 2015.
The building will be used to train and recertify RCMP officers as well as agents with the Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA).
Acting mayor Ken Popove was at the announcement as was new Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO) president Brian Coombes, both of whom lauded former CEPCO president John Jansen for his hard work lobbying for the new range.
“We are pleased to see this long-term project come to fruition in the City of Chilliwack,” Popove said. “CEPCO has done a phenomenal job developing the Canada Education Park, and continues to work for the overall good of Chilliwack.”
CEPCO will serve as project manager on construction of the firing range, which will be completed by Chilliwack firm Preview Builders. The RCMP will then lease the facility from CEPCO for five years and then purchase it for the final cost of $19 million.
Asked if neighbours would hear anything, Legault said while there is no such thing as a soundproof building, this will be close.
“All the research and all the work that has been done by the engineering firms, I am very confident that there is going to be very, very little noise and none, really, when the doors are closed,” he said.
The sound from the current outdoor range has been disruptive to neighbours of Garrison Crossing and other nearby residential areas. But no one is closer to the range than UFV students and staff, from whom there have been frequent complaints over the years.
Both UFV president Mark Evered and RCMP senior officers expressed gratitude to each other for the patience and understanding resolving those issues.
But a new problem emerges with the opening of UFV’s Agriculture Centre of Excellence right next to the current firing range, a facility that will have farm animals at least some of the time.
Asked about the overlap period between September 2014 and December 2015 when the indoor firing range is finished, Evered said he will be looking to have the same level of “co-operation and collaboration” with the RCMP as they have had thus far.
“There are animal ethics issues, of course, that we pay very close attention to as well as the teaching and learning side,” Evered said. “We’ve always managed to work these problems out in the past and I have real faith in the partnership and the patience and understanding.”