Military, police end blasting in Kinburn

KINBURN – Deerwood Estates residents are sighing a big breath of relief as military training at a nearby quarry has cancelled planned blasting previously scheduled for this Friday (March 20).

Since roughly 2008, the Department of National Defence (DND) and its contractors have used the Thomas Cavanagh Kinburn Quarry at 3492 Grants’ Side Rd. for explosives training purposes. In 2008 the Ontario Municipal Board agreed to add small arms, riles and explosives testing to the quarry’s permitted uses.

Nearby residents report the blasting could be felt as far as seven kilometres away from the detonation which includes the nearly 100-house Deerwood Estates development.

“We don’t need this,” Deerwood Estates resident Catharine Nutt said March 9. “We had to replace our well after the last blasting. Nearly $10,000 worth of drilling and plumbing. We still have to landscape our side yard when the snow is finished. I know (other) people that needed a new well as well. Several others had changes in their wells. The plumber said several other people in West Carleton had the same problem at the same time.”

Ministry of Natural Resources’ Christopher Bierman responded to complaints during the 2008 blasting.

“MREL conducted testing on the 15th, 16th, and 17th (of July, 2008), which would correspond with the blasting complaints,” Bierman wrote in an email. “The seismograph readings were in the high range of the provincial standards.  Phil (White of Cavanagh Construction) agreed this needs to be addressed prior to any future testing.”

The training is overseen by DND contractor MREL Group of Companies which operates similar testing facilities around the world. Established in 1973, MREL is a technology-based company that provides unique explosives-related products and associated technical services to qualified customers in the blasting, bomb disposal, defence, explosives, humanitarian demining and police communities.

The Kinburn site is just one of many testing facilities in Ontario. Some of MREL’s clients include National Defence and the Ottawa Police Service. More information can be found on the company’s website:

The Kinburn Quarry is the grey area on the left side of the photo, while Deerwood Estates is located right of the quarry where you can see the network of roads. Courtesy Google Maps
The Kinburn Quarry is the grey area on the left side of the photo, just right of the orange dot, while Deerwood Estates is located right of the quarry where you can see the network of roads. Courtesy Google Maps

The March 20 exercise was to include six “controlled” explosions.

“I received your email from Thomas Cavanagh Construction in order to inform that we will be conducting training at the Kinburn Quarry on the 20th of March between the hours of 0800-1600,” Canadian Special Forces Training Coordinator Sgt. Raphael Caesar of the Dwyer Hill Training Facility emailed the community on March 9. “There will be a total of six controlled detonations.”

Deerwood, Stonewalk, Panmure and Forest View Community Group member Debra Sine spoke to West Carleton Online about the issue.

“Residents of a beautiful rural community in the City of Ottawa have endured ‘controlled blasting’ for military and police purposes at Kinburn Quarry for many years, to the detriment of this otherwise quiet and pristine neighbourhood,” Sine told West Carleton Online March 17 shortly before the planned March 20 blasting had been cancelled. “This unnecessary blasting places people, pets and property at risk, and may be endangering our access to clean well water. Community members are fed up with these intrusions and would like them to stop altogether. We fear for our environment, our homes and property, and access to clean well water in our community.”

Residents have expressed serious concerns about this issue, including potential damage to property and well water as well as discomfort and disturbance to people and pets from the noise and vibrations associated with repeated blasting.

“We believe there are much more suitable alternative locations far away from city neighbourhoods where military and police testing could be conducted without danger to local residents, their property and environmental quality,” Sine said.

Sine said a 2008 arrangement to reduce blasting vibrations, keep the blasts within safety limits set by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry under the Aggregate Resources Act, and to provide timely advance notice of testing was of no use.

“We understand this arrangement was to apply to all future military testing and training,” Sine said. “In the years since 2008, the terms of the arrangement have more often than not been ignored by the owner of the quarry, Thomas Cavanagh Construction, and the other parties conducting the blasts.”

The community created a petition opposed to the blasting and sent it to Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, Cavanagh Construction, the Department of National Defence and the Ministry of Natural Resources.

The entrance to Kinburn Quarry. Photo by Jake Davies
The entrance to Kinburn Quarry. Photo by Jake Davies

On March 16, the residents of Deerwood Estates received good news in the form of an email from Phil White, Cavanagh Construction Quality Control.

“We would like to inform you Cavanagh has cancelled the training at the quarry, as a result of the community concerns,” White wrote. “Cavanagh was reassured this type of training would have been carried out without impact and in a safe manner, which it may have, as it was not related to the training of several years ago. Cavanagh’s main priority is to maintain good relations and support the community and it is for this reason we have decided to cancel the training. Thank you for your patience and your concerns.”

In an earlier email, White stated they had made the original agreement with DND as a community service “to help out the military.” 

“In short, I’m relieved to know that they’ve cancelled blasting for the 20th,” nearby resident Jeff Gill told West Carleton Online yesterday (March 17). “As a former serving member of the Forces (13 years, infantry branch), I know very well this is the type of activity that could take place in a training area on one of our bases. I only moved to the Deerwood area a year ago, but upon hearing the concerns and history, and also the opinion of professionals, I was fearful of the potential consequences to my home’s well, foundation and structure.”

Gill was pleased with the response from the quarry owners. 

“I thought it was considerate and professional of Cavanagh to respect our concerns as a community,” Gill said. “I fully understood their desire to support our Forces, as I still do myself to this day. But given the legitimate concerns that were identified, I’m grateful that the right decision was made and that we were involved in the process. Thanks also has to go to Debra Sine, who in this case committed days and hours of her time to ensure our needs were voiced and looked after.”

Sine too, was pleased with the end result, but says vigilance is still required moving forward.

“We are delighted at this news but remain concerned the quarry might resume blasting activities for military or police purposes at some point in the future when people have forgotten what has just happened,” she said. “We are pleased that Cavanagh and the DND have retreated for the time being, but urge them to bring these activities to an end in our community, once and for all.”