Rod and gun show 'sabotaged' in Surrey

Rod and gun show ‘sabotaged’ in Surrey

CLOVERDALE — A new event called the BC Rod and Gun Show is in the works in Surrey, but organizers say they’ve been met with roadblocks at the city thus far.

Kent Archibald, who owns the Firearms Training Centre in Cloverdale, is helping organize the event.

"They very successfully sabotaged our show by delaying it," he said of the city.

"We want it to be a swap meet – like a flea market – but only for camping and fishing gear and hunting stuff. Our whole problem started when they saw the word ‘gun.’ Well the brakes went on and the lights went on and they refused to issue us a permit or a business licence."

Jas Rehal, Surrey’s bylaw enforcement manager, said the group approached the city to obtain a business licence for the trade show, but the city was unable to grant one due to existing zoning restrictions.

Surrey’s zoning bylaw prohibits the sale of new and used firearms and ammunition, "unless specifically provided in that zone."

"That type of activity is prohibited. The only way they could get permission for that is to go back before council and request that," Rehal said. "There was nothing we could do to relax it or overrule it. They had to go back to council to get permission."

Steve Bednash, another organizer of the event, said by the time they approached the city for a permit, a location had already been obtained at Cloverdale Fairgrounds, tickets had been printed, flyers had been posted and vendors had been obtained.

The group has now applied for a TUP (Temporary Commercial Use Permit) and OCP amendment for the three-day event, but Bednash said the delay has put the show’s existence in jeopardy and many committed vendors dropped out. As a result, he said the show may have to be rescheduled from its planned September date to next April.

"I feel like we’ve been cut off at the knees," Bednash said.

"I could go into the parking lot at city hall and do a firearms transaction – or right in front of the police station…. Right out in the open. And that’s legal."

He says the show will get those transactions off the street, into a safe environment, with police in attendance.

"With all the killings in Surrey and the Lower Mainland… everybody wants to put a control on guns," he said.

Organizers say the exhibition would be conducted in accordance with the Firearms Act.

In Canada, firearms and ammunition can only be bought or sold by a person who has a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL). In order to obtain the licence, the applicant must pass the Canadian Firearms Safety Course and then apply for a PAL directly from the RCMP, who conduct a background and criminal record check.

Shows like this are attended by RCMP Firearm Officers who check licences and arrange for the lawful transfer of purchases.

Bednash went on to say that guns are just a small part of the event, like many other outdoors shows held throughout the country.

"It’s a traditional sportsmen tradeshow. On one hand – you’re going to have boats, quads, anything to do with hunting, fishing and camping, and on the flip side it’s going to be a rod and gun swap for people who want to get rid of their fishing gear, camping gear or firearms and hunting equipment. They can do so in a safe, neutral environment."

Former White Rock mayor Hardy Staub, a sportsman himself, is supporting the show.

"(Council) may have had a reason for making the bylaws the way they are, but I was surprised," Staub said.

"Everybody looks at firearms and ammunition like it’s the drug trade. This is not who we are," he said. "These are sportsmen, these are families. We have a huge amount of people that live in Surrey who are sportsmen, they either go to the firing range or they go hunting or they go fishing. And those are the people we’re doing this for."

When told the group says the city restrictions delayed the event, Coun. Barinder Rasode, chair of the city’s public safety committee, said the matter is a confusing one because of the difference between a TUP permit area and a TUP permit, which are dealt with differently.

She said the reason the group needs an OCP amendment is because there is no specified TUP permit area identified for this type of permit, "like we have for truck parking, for example."

"This will no longer be required with the new OCP as it deals with TUP permit areas differently."

She said the TUP would be easier to come by under the new OCP.

The group’s request was granted first and second reading by Surrey council Monday night, and the application is slated for public hearing in the coming weeks.

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