Practicing UXO Safety at the Former Blair Rifle Range in North Vancouver, British Columbia
Training at past military sites often involved the use of live ammunition, some of which did not function as intended. These old military explosives are called unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO). UXO may still be present at former training locations, and can be dangerous if disturbed.
To ensure these areas remain safe for Canadians, the Department of National Defence (DND) regularly assesses former military sites for UXO. Through its UXO program, DND conducts ongoing research, interviews, and in-person site visits. If any possible risks are identified, active steps are taken to inform the public and perform the necessary UXO site surveys and clearance work.
The former Blair Rifle Range, located in the Northlands area of North Vancouver (figure 1), was used by the Canadian Armed Forces for military training from the 1930s to 1960s. As part of regular UXO program work, this area was identified for a precautionary site survey, which took place in February 2018.
During the site survey, a three-inch mortar was found. As part of DND’s regular UXO safety procedures, the area was secured immediately and access restricted to ensure public safety. DND’s military ordnance disposal team safely removed the item for disposal off site. Munitions scrap, including tail fins and practice rounds, was also found but no other unexploded ordnance.
Given these findings, DND had sufficient evidence to justify a more intensive, precautionary search for additional UXO. This expanded investigation took place from April 5 to May 18, 2018. Trails and open areas were surveyed, and new caution signs (figure 2) were installed throughout the former rifle range. Four additional UXO were found during the search and safely removed, along with munitions scrap such as tail fins, practice rounds, and grenade parts.
The survey results confirmed that walking and biking trails continue to be safe for the community to use for walking, jogging or biking. As with all former military sites, the community should continue to use good judgment and caution when using the property. Stay on designated trails and refrain from digging or making campfires in the area.
If you see something that looks like it may be UXO, please follow these steps:
- Don’t touch it.
- Turn around and leave the area the same way you came in.
- Call 911 or local police.
If you have any questions about DND’s UXO activities at the former Blair Rifle Range, please contact us by e-mail at UXOCanada@forces.gc.ca.
Through its UXO Legacy program, DND is working to reduce UXO risks at former military sites across Canada and ensure these areas are safe for Canadians.
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