News

Thousands of truckloads of GTA soil pile into Norfolk for gun club expansion project

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Trucks full of soil wait to unload at the Waterford Sportman's Club on Highway 24 on Tuesday morning (April 18, 2017). The club is using the soil to expand its rifle range and build up berms. JACOB ROBINSON/SIMCOE REFORMER

Trucks full of soil wait to unload at the Waterford Sportman's Club on Highway 24 on Tuesday morning (April 18, 2017). The club is using the soil to expand its rifle range and build up berms. JACOB ROBINSON/SIMCOE REFORMER

WATERFORD - 

The Waterford Sportsman’s Club swung into action this month when it learned there were thousands of tons of free, clean fill available for a planned expansion of its rifle range.

The club on Highway 24 northwest of Waterford had plans to improve its rifle range when the Brant Rod & Gun Club informed it that tons of fill were free for the taking from a contractor in Mississauga.

The Waterford club expressed interest and advanced its schedule for construction. Since then, thousands of dump-truck loads have been deposited at the 63-acre facility. There will be thousands more before the three-month project is finished.

The non-stop convoys have prompted speculation as to what is happening at the property. Members of Norfolk council expressed bewilderment at their meeting April 11, with staff having no answers for anybody. Members of the public have responded to the information vacuum with theories of their own.

“We’re doing range improvements,” club member Bert Cronkwright of Windham Centre said this week. “Some people think we’re building a drag strip out there or a golf course. Some think we’re building it up so the police can shoot there. That’s news to me.

“We’re actually building up the berms for improved noise reduction and to make it more CFO- (Chief Firearms Officer of Ontario) friendly.”

The gun club executive is thrilled with the fill because it is knocking thousands of dollars off the expected cost of the project.

The plan is to expand the club’s rifle range from 180 yards long to 300 yards while increasing the height of the surrounding embankments from 12.5 feet to 25 feet. The rifle range will also be widened.

Once the berms are enlarged, safety, privacy and noise-reduction will be further enhanced with the planting of trees on top.

There have been reports in recent months of unscrupulous contractors in the Greater Toronto Area trying to offload soil of questionable quality from big-city construction projects.

Ron Lefebvre of Simcoe, president of the Waterford Sportsman’s Club, said the first thing that crossed the executive’s mind was the possibility of contamination. Lefebvre says the soil is certified clean and that the club is satisfied with the documentation it has seen to this effect.

“There was quite a rush on this,” Lefebvre said this week. “It’s saving us thousands of dollars. We’ve brought in 3,000 truckloads already. It’s been approved by the CFO. They’ve inspected our plan and will re-inspect the work when it is finished. It will make our neighbours happier.”

The berm project hasn’t been without repercussions beyond the rifle range. As many as 60 trucks at a time have lined up on the shoulder of Highway 24 waiting to enter the property.

Norfolk OPP are concerned about the safety concerns this raises on a busy highway and have, on occasion, provided escorts at the scene.

Then there was April 11 itself when the weather was cold and rainy. A bulldozer was needed to pull the dump trucks onto the site and then extricate them. Some have complained that Highway 24 in the area of the gun club was a muddy, bumpy mess as a result.

The Waterford Sportsman Club has 1,000 members, 100 of which are considered active.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com