Proposed gun range for Drummond North Elmsley dismissed by Ontario Land Tribunal

The property for the proposed gun range in Drummond North-Elmsley Township is located at 1668 Rideau Ferry Rd, and the owner, Martin Whyte has some options after his case for a zoning amendment was dismissed by the Ontario Land Tribunal. – Laurie Weir photo

An appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) to allow the rezoning of a portion of a 120-acre property to incorporate a proposed gun range in Drummond North Elmsley Township has been dismissed.

That doesn’t mean the owner of the land, Martin Whyte, won’t move forward with plans, according to the township’s reeve Steve Fournier.

“There are two potential next steps that Mr. Whyte may take if he wishes to challenge this result: requesting the OLT review its decision or seeking leave of the court to make an appeal to Divisional Court,” Fournier wrote in an email with this publication on April 8.

In addition to the appeal to the OLT, Whyte has named the township as a respondent in a Superior Court of Justice application, in which he is seeking a declaration that a gun range use is a legal non-conforming use on his property, the reeve stated.

Fournier said the township will take additional steps to defend itself on the decision to deny a rezoning application if any further action is taken by the proponent at the OLT.

“The decision from OLT denies the zoning application, which would have permitted a gun range and shooting club…under the zoning bylaw,” Fournier stated in his email. “The township will defend its position in the Superior Court of Justice case regarding the interpretation of a legal non-conforming use.”

Whyte purchased the property near Rideau Ferry in February 2022. He sought approval from the township to rezone the land to accommodate a shooting range, which was denied by council. Public resistance has been strong, filling meeting rooms in the township with vocal opposition.

Residents in opposition cite excessive noise, degradation of their enjoyment of their own properties, lower property values, environmental impacts, and mental stress as some of their concerns, which were noted in the township’s denial of the application.

Jennifer Jilks is one of the opponents. She told Brockvilleist in an April 8 email that they trusted the process “knowing this land use doesn’t fit in with DNE Township, nor the provincial laws that protect us from inappropriate land use,” she wrote.

“We are grateful for all the extra work that staff put in to follow the process. I am grateful that our elected officials worked so hard. I had great confidence in them,” she added. “There is a giant sigh of relief in the community, as well as in my head and in my heart. It has taken a toll.”

Whyte has not yet responded to an invitation to comment on the issue.

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