Woolwich Township has no plans for sweeping changes to its hunting bylaw following a close call in Breslau last weekend.
Shortly after noon Nov. 6, a shotgun slug tore through a window at Belgian Nursery, narrowly missing an unidentified customer. The slug was fired from across the road by an 18-year-old hunter who police say tried to shoot a deer across Highway 7, but missed. Police charged the Woolwich man with careless use of a firearm, and seized a weapon.
The slug penetrated the front window and struck some foam in the store.
“Definitely it’s an isolated incident,” explained township clerk Christine Broughton. “We haven’t had any other issues come up this (hunting) season.”
The manager of the nursery, Rosemary Galivan, said the whole experience has been surreal.
“I think everybody was in shock when we realized what happened. It was the disbelief of ‘did that actually happen?’”
Since the fright of last Saturday’s incident, however, business at the store has almost returned to normal.
“A lot of customers are coming in and talking about it, but I think people are talking about it everywhere,” Galivan noted.
She was also quick to point out that it was an isolated incident, and a poor choice by a single individual. She hopes the township does not spend too much time or energy reviewing bylaws or making new rules surrounding guns because of the incident at her store.
“I would hate if it was really blown out of proportion,” she said. “It’s no different than someone driving on the road that decides to talk on their cell phone and kills someone. It was just one of those bad judgment scenarios.”
Under the current township bylaw, hunters are not permitted to discharge any firearm within the 200-metre buffer zone surrounding urban or commercial settlements in Woolwich, including Bast Place, Bloomingdale, Breslau, Conestogo, Crowsfoot Corner, Eldale, Elmira, Floradale, Heidelberg, Martin Grove, Maryhill, Mundil, St. Jacobs, Shantz Station, Winterbourne, and West Montrose.
What Broughton intends to do is examine the properties within the buffer area surrounding Breslau and Shantz Station, and send a reminder notice to residents that they are within the buffer zone and that hunting is prohibited in that area.
For now, due to the uncertainty of where the man was when he shot the gun, that is all they can do.
“We believe he was outside the buffer zone when the incident happened, but we can’t be sure because we don’t know the exact location,” explained Broughton.
She plans to put a notice on the community page of the Woolwich website, reminding all citizens of the prohibited zones and maps of those areas as well. Broughton noted that hunters need to verify exactly where they are going to be hunting to avoid any future accidents such as the one in Breslau.
The township last examined its gun bylaws back in 2006. This incident may renew interest in once again reviewing its approach to handling firearms in the region.
“It may spark debate, but I haven’t heard anything so far. We may look at it again, but we’ll have to wait and see if this council would like to do that,” she said of a new council that will be sworn in next month.