Sheffield shooting range blamed for destroying Canadian investor's business - Residents say the authorities have failed them
While Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is optimistic that his recent visit to Canada will cause that nation's people to see Jamaica as a viable business option, Shelly Gaddy, a Westmoreland-based Canadian businesswoman, is threatening to be a dissenting voice against the efforts.
Gaddy is decrying the bad experience she has been having as a result of a shooting range near her business place in Sheffield.
Due to the constant sound of gunfire at the range, persons who visit Gaddy's guest house usually cut their visit short because they are not willing to put up with the noise nuisance.
Repeated efforts by the businessmen to get the authorities, including the National Environmental and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), to do something about the situation have yielded no results.
"I am not from Jamaica, but I have seen what this country can offer, so I invested over US$300,000 on my bed-and-breakfast business but have already lost over US$60,000 because of the gunshots from the shooting range," Gaddy told The Gleaner.
"Yet, despite my many complaints, no one seems to be taking my concerns as an investor seriously."
No update from NEPA
Back in July, The Sunday Gleaner reported that NEPA said it would be looking into the matter. When contacted recently, NEPA had no updates on how it was planning to handle the concerns.
"My family will no longer invest, my friends will no longer invest. In fact, we were looking to set up a time share facility and encourage visitors, but they won't come anymore because the reviews on my facility are mainly about the constant shooting," continued Gaddy.
"I hear talks about health tourism, but the political leaders must show that they are serious. Everyone must play by the rules."
The residents of Sheffield, who have been negatively affected by the constant gunfire, which has been ongoing for the past six years, have made numerous complaints to agencies such as the police, NEPA, the FLA and the Westmoreland Parish Council but to no avail.
Even protest demonstrations have failed to spur any of the agencies into action.
Like Gaddy, the other residents of Sheffield say they are not able to enjoy the comfort of their homes. In addition, community activities, to include the school's Alternative Secondary Transition Education Programme, and even church activities are being affected.
According to the Town and Country Planning (Negril and Green Island Area) Provisional Development Order 2013, Sheffield is designated a residential zone but can have facilities for assembly and leisure, including a dance hall (but no nightclub), swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums, sport arenas or other outdoor games, except for motorsport or where firearms are used.
"Development proposals, which would lead to unacceptable levels of noise nuisance to nearby existing or future occupants, will not be granted permission by the planning authority," the development order reads, which would appear to rule out an outdoor shooting range.
"There are a number of leisure and sporting activities which produce large volumes of noise and nuisance, and that would not be considered suitable for a resort area such as Negril," the order continued. "These include motorcycle sports, go-karting, pistol and gun shooting. Some of these activities could, however, be accommodated in indoor facilities, which are constructed specifically for that purpose."
Christine Daley-Green, who runs the shooting range, was contacted for comment by The Gleaner, but except for acknowledging that she was the operator of the facility, she refused to comment.