A Ladysmith family is calling for changes to provincial regulations for recreational shooting in backcountry areas after father Simon Tozer was shot and killed by a stray bullet while dirt biking earlier this year.
Simon Tozer, 52, was in the backcountry on Mt. Hayes on Family Day when he was fatally shot. It’s believed the bullet came from a group of recreational shooters who were firing high-calibre rifles in the area, however, the Vancouver Island Major Crimes Unit continues to investigate. No charges have been laid.
As they await a final report into Tozer’s death, his sister Sarah Bonar and wife Sandra Tozer are pushing for changes to provincial regulations around recreational shooting in backcountry areas.
“He was exceptional. He was intelligent, creative, a really hard worker, a really strong family man and someone you could rely on no matter what. He just loved life,” Sarah said.
“It’s hideous that this happened. We don’t believe the people who did this intended to do it. But if we don’t learn from what happened, people are going to do it again.”
Municipalities do have the ability to enact bylaws to restrict firearm discharges within their boundaries, however regional districts can only prohibit firearms use within regional district parks. Such restrictions exist in areas like Silver Star Park, Woodhous Slough on Vancouver Island, within the Squamish River Valley, Kalamalka Lake Park, adjacent to the Chehalis/Fleetwood Forest Service Road and along the Sea to Sky Highway.
“It’s just not enough,” Sarah said. “Within a month of what happened to Simon, my mom’s friend had a bullet whiz over her head up at Nanaimo Lakes. There’s no law against it. The police get called and by the time they get to the area, the people are long gone and there’s no way of finding the people who are doing this. Without any other regulatory restrictions, it just happens.”
In a statement to Black Press Media, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said he was deeply saddened by Tozer’s death.
“Human safety is the highest priority of the Fish and Wildlife Branch, and when a safety concern is identified, the appropriate tool — like firearms restrictions — may be put in place,” he said, adding that the province conducts regular safety assessments.
The Fraser Valley Regional District is one example of regional firearms control in action: In response to a high volume of firearms discharges, the district enacted restrictions in several areas through the Wildlife Act, with the help of the province.
So-called “no-shooting zones” were established within 400 meters of select roads on non-municipal Crown land in the area. Any gun users who ignore the restrictions can face fines of up to $50,000 and six months in jail for a first offence. Subsequent offences can carry fines up to $100,000 and a year in jail.
Sarah and Sandra want to see similar restrictions enacted across B.C.
“Provincial legislation should be changed to permit regional districts to create bylaws that restrict where firearms can be discharged. We urge you to please write to your local MLA if you also feel there is a need for better gun control.”
Anyone with any information around Tozer’s death is encouraged to contact VIMCU at: 250-380-6211