On Thursday August 8th I had an official tour of the Department of National Defense (DND) firing range in Nanaimo, and the surrounding DND lands, which are referred to as the "protective template." The DND is currently upgrading infrastructure around the protective template, replacing old signs and fences with new signs, and more robust fences and barriers. They are also engaging in an educational campaign with different user groups in our area, as well as with the school district.
I witnessed a training drill, which was supposed to include live fire. However, live fire training was terminated shortly before we arrived, because trespassers on horseback were spotted by a sentry. Anytime trespassers are spotted, live fire training is immediately terminated. During the tour we also encountered a mountain biker, who was unaware of being on DND lands.
The Nanaimo range is currently the only firing range in the province that can support the full range of Canadian Armed Forces weapons qualifications training. It is used for training by armed forces personnel from all over BC, not only Vancouver Island.
When I met with the parliamentary secretary for the Minister of Defense in Ottawa, I learned that all DND properties in British Columbia are undergoing review. The DND is aware of the encroachment issues relating to the Nanaimo range, but as I reported previously, they are not at liberty to discuss future plans for the range until the infrastructure review is completed. There is a possibility that this range could be moved at some point in the future, but there are no plans for such a move at this time.
Safety has to be our first concern. Members of our community who want to work towards a different future use for this land, will need to engage in a long term, multi-level process. And this process must include Snuneymuxw First Nation, the Department of Defence, the City of Nanaimo and the Regional District. I am committed to engaging in that process.
I would like to thank Commander S. Sader and the rest of the CAF personnel, who took part in my visit. I appreciated the informative tour and presentation, and the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of this issue.