On-Course Hazard: Unexploded Ordnance
By Torleif Sorenson on 5/6/14
From northern Alberta comes the incredible and truly bizarre story about a golf course and a lie. Actually, it is a series of lies by the Canadian government to the Enoch Cree Nation over 70 years. The results are justifiable anger toward the government by this First Nations band and the shuttering of Indian Lakes Golf Course, west of Edmonton.
Between 1942 and 1946, Canada's Department of National Defence (DND) used 1,280 acres of Enoch Cree Nation (ECN) land as a bombing range and artillery test site. At the time, this was done with cooperation of Canada's Department of Indian Affairs, but without the consent of the ECN. Until recently, the Enoch Cree were told that some 12,000 smoke bombs weighing 11.5 pound were dropped on Enoch Cree land from 1942 to 1946.
Now, through freedom-of-information requests, the DND has revealed that as many as 200,000 live bombs and other unstable munitions are still on-site.
"I'm actually really, absolutely disgusted and angry, me and my council with these findings," Enoch Chief Ron Morin said Tuesday. "Its taken us over 70 years.That means that the golf course is closed indefinitely and 50 employees have lost their jobs. The ECN's cultural grounds are also closed, forcing the band to move and/or reschedule their special events.
Among the more disturbing discoveries was a 105-mm live artillery shell.
Not surprisingly, Chief Morin also wants the Canadian government to test the land and water for contaminants and hazards, and to pay for it. Those contaminants could very well be leeching into the groundwater supply for the ECN and for Parkland County and the City of Edmonton.
Also of deep concern to the ECN and other allied First Nations is the revelation that, during World War II, the Canadian military may have held prisoners of war on Cree land:
"If there were POWs from Japan and Germany that the Canadian armed forces held, did any of them die while they were in care in those camps? If so, were they buried on our lands?" Morin asked.It seems that Canada's government owes the Enoch Cree Nation a massive amount of detection, clean-up, restoration, and restitution. As for us golfers, the loss of yet another course in Alberta is nothing short of discouraging.
Let's hope that the bureaucrats and politicians make this one right; these days, they are supposed to be better than this. In the end, government is supposed to serve citizens, not the other way around.
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Image via Indian Lakes Golf Club
[ comments ]
Played that course several times (a number of years ago) and quite enjoyed the layout. It was in great shape the first few years, but seemed to lack concentrated maintenance efforts in the years that followed and the conditions were fair to poor the last time I played it (15 years ago). There were rumours of another 9 or 18 holes to be constructed, but they never came to light (and perhaps a good thing that the ground in the area wasn't disturbed too much!). Too bad about the original course closing, though.
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