Amid concerns voiced by residents of two Balata communities, the planners of a proposed shooting range in the area have issued a response.
Arthur Scott is the Director of Operations of the Blue Hill Sports Club, the entity behind the proposed development.
He acknowledged that there are concerns regarding indiscriminate firearm use.
However, Scott said his Club approached the Development Control Authority (DCA), which provided a checklist of criteria.
As a result, the Blue Hill Club official said the organisation eventually settled on a quarry at Balata and submitted engineer drawings in line with international standards and presented other required documents.
Scott told reporters that part of the process involved stakeholders, with a notice informing them of the proposed range and inviting comments and recommendations by a specific date per standard procedure.
“We were expecting comments, but I was just shocked when I heard so many things were being said and some of the arguments being made,” he stated.
He recalled concerns about people venturing onto the proposed shooting range and water contamination.
In this regard, Scott told reporters that the Blue Hill Club intended to publish articles to ‘demystify’ the issue in the coming days.
“The shooting range is set within a safe distance as per the legal requirements,” he asserted.
“There are standard practices, so you have distances from residential areas,” Scott pointed out.
He added that the area is gated and access to the quarry is restricted.
Additionally, he noted that Blue Hill is a private club.
“You cannot just come into this range. You have to be invited,” Scott declared.
He observed that the Club wants to encourage the responsible use of firearms and responsible training and competence in using the weapons.
“At the end of the day, we cannot allow the criminals out there to just be doing things. We are all at risk and those persons who have been granted permission to have and carry firearms must be given a facility where they can practise, train, be more competent in protecting themselves, in protecting their family and protecting others,” the Blue Hill Club Operations Director said.
He felt that the residents of Tuxedo Heights and Feree Heights stand to benefit.
“At the end of the day, there will be more police presence in the area because there is a shooting range,” Scott observed.
He said Club has good relations with the police because its members are recognised sports shooters.
He said the range was being set up because most Club members come from the North of Saint Lucia and travel to Dennery most times to train.
“We know of the road conditions and we know that some of our members are not able to come and access the training because of the road conditions and the distance,” Scott told reporters.
He said the Club was making plans to take care of its legal firearm holders to get a facility where they can practise to become competent in safe firearm use.
At the same time, he disclosed a sporting aspect to the initiative.
Scott explained that he is a certified instructor and a sports shooter who has represented Saint Lucia overseas.
He said the shooting range plan resulted from serious thought, including the idea of Saint Lucia becoming a hub where other shooters can visit and compete and sports tourism could benefit the residents and the wider community.