The other weekend I played a bit of hooky from work to join some friends for a swim up at Echo Lake. It was one of those perfect sunny days where the last thing I wanted to do was sit in the office, looking out my window at the blue sky beyond.
We got to the lake and I put on my bathing sit, dipped my toe to test the waters and took a few steps in. That’s when I noticed something shiny beneath the surface.
I took a closer look – it was a golf club. I picked it up – It was junior nine iron – brought it to shore, put it on the picnic table and went back in. Five steps later and spotted another shiny object – an (empty) bottle of Budweiser.
Littering is one of my biggest pet peeves – especially in a beautiful wilderness area and apparently some people don’t even mind dumping loads of garbage out don the flats or down forestry roads.
“It’s definitely been an issue and its one we’re concerned about,” Gerald Hills, the compliance and enforcement officer with the Ministry of Forests, told me. “It’s not a new thing. When the dump put in tipping fees there was a huge spike but its since settled back down. There is still a proportion of the population that has some bad ethics when it comes to garbage and the environment.”
According to Hills, the forestry roads past the dump on Westside Road and south of town past Airport Way are the prime locations for illegal dumping. I went and did some scouting of my own last week but didn’t find anything, though Hill said they had just done some clean up.
The problem stretches beyond forestry roads. It appears the Columbia River flats are also popular garbage dumps for some people. Chris Pawlitsky of the Revy Riders dirt bike club sent me some pictures of a clean-up job they did in conjunction with BC Hydro at 10 Mile and 12 Mile.
According to Adam Croxall of BC Hydro they took away seven truck loads of trash, including car parts, burnt couches, chairs, a trailer canopy (pictured above) and other debris. I was told that BC Hydro clears away 2-3 tonnes of garbage from the flats every year.
Why does illegal dumping happen? Part of it, I assume, is out of sheer laziness. As well, I imagine some people don’t want to pay the tipping fees at the Revelstoke dump so instead they just drive out into the bush and leave it there.
A few months ago I was tipped off about someone who had unloaded his garbage out on the Big Eddy Road west of Revelstoke. When I called up Carmen Fennell at the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District to find out who was in charge of clean up and enforcement she said the CSRD was working on an anti-dumping bylaw.
Meanwhile, the Conservation Office does have the authority to go after people under the auspices of the Environmental Management Act – if they can figure out who the garbage belongs to. I was told they would go through the garbage to find out and sometimes people do leave signs of who they are. If caught, they can faced a penalty ranging from a $115 fine to 6 months in jail, said Hills.
“We’d love any tips people have if they see someone dumping garbage in the woods,” he said.
The Revy Riders are not the only group doing clean up around town. Credit also goes to the Rotary Club for cleaning up the area near the Selkirk Saddle Club. I was also told that this year’s grad class was doing a clean-up along Westside Road. In the Big Eddy, some kind citizens took on the task of cleaning up the mess.
Kudos to them. There’s nothing worse to ruin a good walk (or nice swim) than a pile of trash left behind by some thoughtless jerk. And if you ever catch me littering, I hope you call me out on it.