Military fights to take back beaches
A "sense of urgency" has arisen surrounding the ongoing cleanup of discarded and possibly live ammunition on Ottawa River beaches lining CFB Petawawa, says area MP Cheryl Gallant.
The urgency flows from "wildly fluctuating" river levels and the potential for shifting sands to expose grenades, mines and charges that still may be live.
In addition, Gallant said, efforts to open up the river to increased traffic could draw boaters tempted by the beautiful beaches but unfamiliar with the potential dangers lurking there.
Fortunately, the MP reported, the $6.3-million removal of military debris and cleanup of the beaches is expected to be mostly completed by October.
Restrictions regarding use of the beaches will be reviewed once the entire project has been implemented, said Gallant, MP for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, who toured the project by helicopter earlier this week.
Other than Kiska and Black Bear beaches, there'll continue to be no public access across CFB Petawawa to other beaches, she confirmed. Access will be by water only, with boaters reminded that base property above the high water mark is restricted to military personnel.
"As someone who enjoys boating with my family on the Ottawa River, I urge patience to let the military complete its job," the MP said.
In 2002, the Department of National Defence embarked on a three-year project to carefully restore beaches lining the base following decades of use for target practice.
While there has never been an ammunition incident on or near the Petawawa beaches, Gallant noted that a 1982 mishap with a derelict shell at a military firing range in Quebec confirmed the need for extreme caution.
The MP said she's looking forward to recommendations from the base commander regarding safe public use of the beaches once the project is finalized.
Von: 25 August 2005, http://ottsun.canoe.ca, by Tom Van Dusen