Bill Wenman from the Trail Wildlife Association received the first big donation toward the purchase of the Casino Gun Range. Vern Blair donated $1,000 on behalf of his deceased brother Don Blair, who was an active user of the range.(Submitted photo)

Trail Wildlife Association aims for gun range purchase

The Trail Rod Gun Club started in 1925, later changed name to the Trail Wildlife Association

The Trail Wildlife Association (TWA) is taking the lead to own, rather than lease, a vast perimeter of Teck lands that are home to a well-used gun range.

Read more: Archers of all ages at Casino Gun Range

Read more: Gun range re-opened

After getting the thumbs up from all three branches of membership, those being the West Kootenay Marksmen and West Kootenay Archers as well as TWA, range manager Bill Wenman is prepping for the next step forward.

“The biggest step was getting a consensus and approval on purchasing the Casino Gun Range from the three founding associations,” Wenman told the Trail Times. “TWA is definitely taking the lead and the others are okay with that. And there are a lot options that have to be looked at how we are actually going to do it.”

Wenman emphasized that the group’s long-standing relationship with Teck has been very positive. Purchasing the property is more about looking ahead and planning future development on the range, which is located on the outskirts of Trail or 7.5 kilometres towards Casino. The selling price has yet to be determined.

“The range is part of the community, and as a community favour, they are only charging us $150 a year as a leasee,” Wenman said. “So Teck has been just great. But we are looking at purchasing it primarily because we want to do some capital improvements,” he added.

“And when you start investing and doing capital improvements on property that you are leasing, you could lose. So that’s the thought process, there are no bad feelings or anything like that.”

After officially getting the green-light from the TWA membership meeting a few weeks ago, Wenman is readying to meet with local powerhouses as he moves forward.

He pointed out the valuable role the Casino Gun Range plays from an economic perspective.

RCMP detachments from Trail to Kelowna use the site for firearms qualifications as do the Canadian Border Services and army troops based locally and afar.

The range also brings in hundreds of visitors each year as they travel from across B.C. and Alberta to participate in various shooting and archery competitions.

“I think it is important to the community at-large as it’s an economic driver,” Wenman said. “So my plan is to present to the LCCDTS (Lower Columbia Community Development Team Society) to get their support that we are a part of the economic development.”

Wenman said he’ll then seek help from Community Futures to come up with a business plan, which will be presented to agencies such as the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary and Columbia Basin Trust, in addition to Teck.

While there is a long road ahead, Wenman is ready to take the reins with the backing of all three memberships.

And, first steps have already been taken to raise money. Instead of members being charged $5 annually for a key to enter the range, they will now be charged $25.

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