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e-4296 (National defence and military operations)

Initiated by Jean-François Di Pietro from Terrebonne, Quebec

Original language of petition: French

Petition to the Minister of National Defence

  • The Saint-Maurice firing range is a 6.5 km2 piece of land, north of Highway 640 owned by the Department of Defence;
  • No military activity has taken place on the land since 1966;
  • Access to the site is prohibited to the public because of the possible presence of unexploded ordnance;
  • The firing range is one of the largest lungs of the Montreal Metropolitan Area (MMA);
  • It contains many peat bogs, wetlands that store carbon very efficiently;
  • MMA officials stated at COP15 that they want to protect 30% of the MMA’s natural environments, to which the firing range could contribute;
  • The site is home to nearly two dozen special-status wildlife and plant species listed as special concern under the federal Species at Risk Act;
  • The firing range must become a protected area to avoid real estate development; and
  • We want the land to be developed, after decontamination, in a way that respects local flora and fauna and that allows public access.
We, the undersigned, residents of Quebec, call upon the Minister of National Defence to:
1. Transfer the Saint-Maurice firing range to the Government of Quebec and/or the City of Terrebonne;
2. Expedite the assessment process to determine the amount of unexploded ordnance on the land and the time needed for decontamination work; and
3. Ensure that the site is decontaminated at federal expense as soon as possible.

Response by the Minister of National Defence

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Bryan May

The former Saint-Maurice firing range, established during the Second World war, is located north of highway 640 and east of route 335 in Terrebonne Québec, approximately 25 km north of Montréal. The Range was primarily used for ammunition testing and remained operational until 1967 and declared a surplus in 2014.

Disposing of federally owned property that has been declared surplus is governed by a series of specific legislative and policy responsibilities, including to safeguard the health and safety of the affected community and environment. These responsibilities are set out in Treasury Board Secretariat’s Directive on Management of Real Property, section 4.2.28 on disposal of real property and section regarding the stewardship and use of real property until the property is ready for disposal.

Given that unexploded ordnances (UXO) are present on the land, preliminary estimates indicate that significant work will be required on the site over a period of approximately 30 years before the property can be considered safe for disposal.

In addition, National Defence recognizes that the Range is home to many at risk wildlife and plant species that need to be protected. National Defence is required to take these and other environmental concerns into account when the property is prepared to be disposed, including in resuming the clearing of the UXOs. In the interim, the ecological value of the Range will be preserved as no development or alternate land uses are possible prior to the land being rendered safe.

National Defence also appreciates the importance of the land on which the Range is located to the local community. As such, it will consult with Indigenous peoples and communities, provincial and municipal governments, and other interested parties before deciding on the future of this property. These consultations will only begin once the site preparation work for the disposal of the property is completed so that National Defence can make an informed decision that complies with its obligations established in the Treasury Board Secretariat’s Directive on Management of Real Property.

Open for signature
February 8, 2023, at 3:05 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
April 9, 2023, at 3:05 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné (Terrebonne)
May 1, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01391)
Government response tabled
June 14, 2023
Photo - Nathalie Sinclair-Desgagné
Bloc Québécois Caucus