Gun show proponents aim to beat clock

Security plan approved, but Cloverdale event still needs last-minute city permit

Organizers of the 2016 B.C. Rod and Gun Show in Cloverdale are moving forward as though the event will go ahead next month, despite not yet having a permit from the City of Surrey.

Show organizer Steve Bednash told Peace Arch News Monday that he has complied with all the city’s requests – and eliminated aspects of the event that were of concern to council members – since council referred a temporary-use permit application back to staff, rather than approve it, earlier this month.

The permit necessary for the show – scheduled for April 15-17 at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, after its premier engagement last year – cannot be approved until the city’s next council meeting on April 11, just four days before the show’s scheduled opening.

City officials – including Mayor Linda Hepner and Coun. Dave Woods, a former district commander for the Cloverdale RCMP – had expressed concern at the March 7 council meeting with the show’s security plan, as well as with the sale of ammunition and the presence of restricted handguns.

Hepner also took issue with the show’s name, specifically the word ‘gun’ in the title.

“If it’s a sportsman show or an outdoorsman show, why don’t you call it that? Why do you call it ‘Rod and Gun?’” she told Black Press earlier this month.

Bednash confirmed ammunition will no longer be sold at the event, and handguns and other restricted firearms, including antiques, will also not be part of it.

In a news release issued late Monday afternoon, show organizers insisted that, with the security plan approved, “council… will be able to approve this permit knowing it will be a safe event for all Surrey residents.”

“We’ve had quite a few conversations, and our security plan has been approved by the RCMP, and by the (City of Surrey’s festival) committee,” Bednash said. “We’re alive and well… everything is a go.”

Surrey’s manager of parks, Owen Croy, confirmed that “security requirements were met” on March 17, but reiterated that the temporary-use permit was still necessary.

Bednash said the show lost a few vendors – specifically those who sell ammunition – but was nonetheless happy to have the show back on the right track with all parties involved.

“We’ve still got a ton of people signed up as vendors – most of them are just retired hunters looking to sell their old firearms, and some of them are quite valuable,” he said. “That’s always been the whole idea of the show – to give people the chance to get rid of unwanted hunting and fishing gear.”

Bednash said he is confident the permit would be green-lit with no further complications, and did not have a contingency plan in place, should it be denied for any reason.

“We’ve satisfied everything they asked us to look at,” he said.

“There is no Plan B, but it’d be pretty hard to just have a rod show.”

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