Canadian Forces soldiers train on a virtual range at Nanaimo Military Camp last year. (NEWS BULLETIN file photo)

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Military right to keep weapons range clear

That land isn’t designated as recreational, it’s a military rifle range, says letter writer

To the editor,

Re: Nanaimo outdoor enthusiasts petitioning as military cracks down on trespassers, May 16.

I am a little taken aback at the community’s pushback against the Department of National Defence after it indicated it wanted to close a tract of land designated as a rifle range for almost a century.

That land isn’t designated as recreational, it’s a military rifle range where large-calibre ammunition is employed. This sense of entitlement by recreational users of this land is misplaced. Try riding your mountain bike at CFB Shilo, or CFB Borden, or any other military base in the country. You’ll get a swift escort off by a few military police. The same applies here. The only mistake DND made was tolerating public use on its land for so long despite repeated asks over the years to stop.

Personally, I often use those trails. Daffodil Ridge and Robert’s Roost are beautiful hikes. However, if the landowner, in the name of training those willing to go overseas and fight for their country and our freedom or keeping our communities safe, want us to steer clear, I’m OK with that. The last thing our military wants is to injure or kill a Canadian citizen.

Besides, aren’t these people the same ones we honour every Remembrance Day to say thank you for protecting us and putting themselves in harm’s way? Yet, here we are fighting them and telling them to go and train somewhere else. My goodness.

Training our troops trumps riding your bike through the woods any day.

Lest we forget.

Toby Gorman, Nanaimo

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Range should move, not the trail users

RELATED: Nanaimo, Lantzville councils speaking up on outdoor recreation at weapons range

RELATED: Nanaimo outdoor enthusiasts petitioning as military cracks down on trespassers

To the editor,

Re: Nanaimo outdoor enthusiasts petitioning as military cracks down on trespassers, May 16.

The Canadian Forces Nanaimo Military Range has had a designated purpose for many years. It provides weapons training opportunities for our military, reservists and RCMP so they have the skills needed to keep our country – us – safe. Why is a ‘firing template,’ a large area beyond the rifle range, necessary? Weapons change and sometimes bullets go astray.

Almost 40 years ago I was a young reservist. One day, on the Nanaimo Military Range, the sergeant put a machine gun in my hands. After instructing us how to safely shoot the weapon, I proceeded to aim and shot high, destroying a row of recently planted trees way behind the target.

Now, this story has a serious side. Suppose someone had been in the firing template, walking or biking behind that line of trees? Luckily, there were no trespassers in the area that day.

I can understand those who ride mountain bikes wanting more recreational opportunities. What about talking to groups such as the City of Nanaimo, local forestry companies or other land owners to see if there might be a better piece of land the mountain bikers could acquire?

It is important to all of us that we keep our military and RCMP well-trained, in a designated area where there are no trespassers who might be seriously wounded.

It is also important for people to have places to enjoy recreation such as hiking and mountain biking. Let’s see if our community can’t work together so both groups benefit and everyone wins.

One last thought: if you are going to trespass and walk or ride on the range, you will just have to hope that a new recruit isn’t firing a weapon for the first time as you go past.

Constance Hansey, Nanaimo

The views and opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are those of the writer and do not reflect the views of Black Press or the Nanaimo News Bulletin. If you have a different view, we encourage you to write to us or contribute to the discussion below.

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