April 18, 2019

Legal Shooting Areas in British Columbia and Canada

information & education

At Silvercore, we are often asked what the rules are in regards to where can a person legally discharge a firearm in areas throughout BC and other provinces, so we thought we’d write a blog post on it! 

It is important to note that this blog post is not designed to be an article providing legal advice, but rather a primer to understand how firearms use is regulated in BC and throughout Canada. 

Understanding how firearms use is regulated first steams from an understanding of all three levels of our government and the roles they play in respect to firearms regulations.

The Federal Government will set the majority of your firearms licensing, possession, acquisitions, and classifications. Federal Laws would concern the Firearms Act and its regulations of the Criminal Code.

An example of this would be that all firearms owners need to have a valid firearms licence, also known as your PAL – possession and acquisition license. The Firearms Act also regulates the acquisition, registration, storage, and the carrying of firearms in Canada.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, a firearm is broadly defined under the Criminal Code of Canada and additional firearms-related offences can also be found there. 

For more information on the Criminal Code of Canada and the Canada Firearms Act and Regulations please see below: 

The Provincial Government, in BC at least, more or less stays out of the regulating of firearms use unless it is in conjunction with lawful hunting activities. These laws relate to game, fish, and wildlife acts but can restrict shooting within certain distances of roads or dwelling for example.  

The B.C. Firearms Act regulates safe firearm use and transportation in the province, while the Wildlife Act governs the use of firearms while hunting.

As this article does not deal with the harvesting of animals, rather the simple discharge of firearms, you can refer to the hunting synopsis here for more information.

Municipal governments likely have rules in place which will allow or deny the discharge of firearms, and once you are sure you meet both federal and provincial regulations, municipal bylaws are what you will need to explore next. Municipal governments handle noise, nuisance, zoning, and by-laws.

For example, in Vancouver, the discharge of firearms is prohibited whereas Richmond will allow firearms discharge in certain areas such as gun clubs, and farmland. In comparison, the city of Delta allows firearms discharge provided it is not single projectile (ie. shotguns only).  

Here are some examples of municipal firearms discharge bylaws:

It’s important to always know and follow laws when you choose to go out shooting, especially you’re out in the bush. If you live in the Fraser Valley and like to go shooting or hunting, then you should familiarize yourself with the No Shooting Areas set forth by the Province of BC and the Fraser Valley Regional District.

This blog is a helpful resource to know what areas are no shoot zones. Remember to also refer to the most recent Hunting & Trapping Regulations Synopsis for site and access restrictions, illegal guiding and illegal transporting, what is unlawful, and hunting methods and provincial bag limits, and remember that it’s continuously updated online. A friendly reminder to check online for updates and as of April 5th, 2017, more no shooting areas have been implemented and added to the already existing zones due to reckless gun use.

For more information on legislation, policies, procedures, and for the allocation of fish and wildlife resources for recreational and commercial use you can visit the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Operations, and Natural Resources Fish & Wildlife Branch online here.

The Fraser Valley Special Area Hunting and Firearms Discharge map is a quick and easy way to visually see where firearms use is permitted. You can view it here.

Below you will find a link to the new no shooting areas implemented April 5, 2017, in coordination with the Province of BC and the Fraser Valley Regional District.

NOTICE: The geographic information system, GIS,  support for this was provided by Fraser Valley Regional District. Their GIS Analyst has provided a Google Earth KMZ file showing the new no shooting areas that you may have access to. Anyone using the KMZ file must understand that the regulation as deposited is what is legal (just in case there is a discrepancy in interpretation). The KMZ below ONLY shows the new regulations, it does not include existing regulations.

NOTICE: With the exception of persons engaged in lawful hunting or trapping, the discharge of firearms is prohibited within 400m of the indicated roads. Other shooting restrictions may apply. Please see the Wildlife Act Closed Areas Regulations for more information. Should there be a discrepancy in interpretation, the regulation as deposited is correct.

Also, the expanded no shoot areas for the Fraser Valley in a downloadable google earth KMZ file: No Shooting Areas

Additional Reading Material: 

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