This petition closes for signatures on July 6, 2021
Many community members in Nanaimo-Ladysmith are aware that the Department of National Defence (DND) operates a rifle range in Nanaimo. DND lands are within close proximity to many homes in Nanaimo's south end. They border Westwood Lake Park, the Morrell Nature Sanctuary, Mount Benson Regional Park, and a new extension to Colliery Dams Park.
Safety is our main concern. Some people have been cutting fences that have been put up to keep people out of the rifle range “template”, or safety zone. Others have deliberately entered that area, even while the range is in active use. These behaviours are unacceptable and must stop immediately, before somebody gets hurt or killed.
I have been contacted by residents who live up to 6-8km away from the range, who feel that the noise created by heavy automatic gunfire is having negative impacts on their health and the health of their families. In addition to noise disturbances for residents, the range has the potential to re-traumatize residents suffering from PTSD, disturb wildlife, and frighten locals and tourists who use trails in the nearby parks.
When the Vokes firing range in Chilliwack, B.C. closed in 2018, use of the Nanaimo Rifle Range increased significantly. The number of days when the Nanaimo range was used increased by 21% from 2017 to 2018, and then 40% from 2018 to 2019. In 2017 the range was used 123 days out of that year. By 2019, after the closure of the range in Chilliwack, the range was used 209 days. In 2020 the range was used 133 days, but that is most likely due to COVID-19, and even then is more than the range was used in 2017.
Despite this increased use and the proximity of the Nanaimo Rifle Range range to so many users and residents of the area, the DND has not conducted any social impact assessments or measures of sound intensity.
Some people have said that the range was there before many of the neighbourhoods and residents were there, and so people need to put up with it or move. However I think it is worth considering the following:
As demonstrated above, the use of the range has greatly increased, even just in the past few years.
The caliber of the weapons being used in the range has increased and thus the noise levels have increased.
Battertubs Marsh, NDSS, the Aquatic Centre, the Ice Sheets and VIU all used to be active DND training grounds in the past. As the city’s demographics have grown, DND lands have become neighbourhoods, education facilities and recreation centres. The city has been growing around the rifle range, and it is no longer appropriate to have it stay where it is. It needs to be moved further out of the city to a location that will not be encroached upon by neighbourhoods and parks. We have suitable locations in our region that will never see urban development.
This is why I sponsored petition e-3383. The petition calls on the Minister of National Defence to reduce the impact of the Nanaimo Rifle Range on residents and the environment and consider relocating it to a more suitable location. I encourage you to sign and share the petition.
Petition e-3383 to the House of Commons
The Department of National Defense (DND) lands in Nanaimo fall within the Regional District of Nanaimo Area C and the City of Nanaimo, British Columbia;
Nanaimo and area population has grown from a few thousand to over 100,000 since the DND firing range was established in the 1950’s;
The DND lands now border Westwood Lake Park, the Morrell Nature Sanctuary, Mount Benson Regional Park, and a new extension to Colliery Dams Park;
These parks contain a significant trail network, used weekly by thousands of recreationists, naturalists, families, and children’s educational programs. This use has increased during the pandemic;
These trail networks connect to a series of trails that crisscross the DND lands;
The DND intermittently uses large calibre automatic weapons during the day and night at the firing range; and
The noise created by heavy automatic gunfire has deleterious health consequences for immediate residents, including the potential to re-traumatize residents with PTSD, disturbs wildlife and bird populations within the vicinity and can be heard more than six kilometres away by residents in Nanaimo’s south end.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of National Defence to:
Clarify the safe operation of the DND Rifle Range;
Conduct a social and environmental impact assessment of the range;
Order a feasibility study on relocating the range to a more suitable, less populated, site; and
Consult the community, including recreational users, the Regional District of Nanaimo, the City of Nanaimo and the Snuneymuxw First Nation about future DND land use.