OPP firing range has nearby residents upset

Concerned Norfolk residents are fighting to shut down an OPP firing range near their homes.They say the noise, stray bullets flying everywhere, and lead contamination are not acceptable. And tonight, they asked county council to put a stop to it.Residents packed council chambers here tonight, voicing concern over the firing range. It’s at a pit owned by the county. But residents say it’s an illegal firing range that hasn’t been approved by the county and it’s dangerous.The sound of gun shots reverberate through the Bonnie Heath Lavender Farm in Norfolk County. The idyllic silence pierced by the sound of gunshots for hours a day most of the year. The Buehner family has lived beside the pit the OPP use as a firing range for 25 years. The noise is a problem, but they are more concerned about stray bullets. Buehner says they found 18 bullets on their farm since the end of September, putting her family and farm employees at risk.Anita Buehner, Bonnie Hill Lavender Farm: “All the times we’ve been told we are absolutely safe and having found this number of bullets. I no longer feel safe and I won’t put my workers or ourselves at risk.”But the OPP says it’s safe and disputes the claims of bullets landing in the lavender.Zvonko Horvat, OPP Detachment Commissioner: “I don’t believe those bullets based on our safety aspects of our training would have made their way there.”There’s no estimate on how many lead bullets have gone into the pit over the years but residents are also concerned about the amount of lead contamination.Anita Buehner: “No one has ever considered the contamination of our water system and our well is less than 400 meters away from that sand bank where all of those lead bullets are.”The OPP admits it’s time to clean up all those bullets. It says the organization will foot the bill, but it won’t be cheap.Duncan McLelland, OPP Facilities Manager: “Yes, we are cleaning it up, the $900,000 is because you have two ranges on that particular site and an average range is $350 – 500,000. This type of clean up is going to take two to three months and we are looking at the 2015 year to clean it up.”The OPP wants to continue to use the range and is asking council for a lease on the pit. But residents say no way.Regina Homeniuk, resident. “There’s a church in this community. There was a funeral and right as the minister is trying to say prayers in the cemetery, the shooting starts.”They want the shooting to stop.Residents say there are 270 legal firing ranges in Ontario and the OPP could easily use any one of those. They’re calling on council to formally reject any notion of leasing this property to the police. Police will go to council with their side of the story at the next council meeting.

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