As the warmer weather hits the region, Lower Mainland sun-seekers flock to getaway spots such as Chilliwack Lake, the Vedder and Fraser rivers and, of course, Cultus Lake.
But the mess left behind by weekend visitors – long the bane of local hikers and anglers – was once again a problem after the Victoria Day long weekend.
This is my home, my backyard. When you come to visit, please pick up after yourself. These pictures are only a small representation from the amount of garbage covering our beaches and docks. Please be more considerate. This is just heart breaking. #sharechilliwack #tourismchilliwack #beautifulbritishcolumbia #cultuslake #victoriaday #maylongweekend #garbage #litter #responsibility #respectnature
A social media post of garbage left behind on the docks at Main Beach at Cultus Lake garnered hundreds of comments and reactions and more than 1,000 shares.
“This is my home, my backyard,” Sadaf Baradar posted on Instagram and Facebook on Monday alongside photos of discarded alcohol beverage cans and bottles, junk food packages and even clothing. “When you come to visit, please pick up after yourself. These pictures are only a small representation from the amount of garbage covering our beaches and docks. Please be more considerate. This is just heart breaking. #sharechilliwack #tourismchilliwack #beautifulbritishcolumbia #cultuslake #victoriaday #maylongweekend #garbage #litter #responsibility #respectnature.
The post received more than 500 reactions on Facebook, more than 1,000 shares and by Tuesday afternoon more than 150 comments.
One person said Cultus after a May long weekend is always heartbreaking.
“I’d like to see stricter anti-litter laws with mandatory community service in the form of litter clean up for repeat offenders,” Austin Knight said.
Jen Fraser called it “inconsiderate and disrespectful.”
“I teach my kids littering is bad and not to do it.”
John Wollenberg said it isn’t just Cultus but everywhere people go outside on a long weekend is left with a mess.
“My friends and I have always been taught to ‘pack out’ what you bring, as well as leave the place your visiting better then you when you got there,” he said. “It’s a shame to see not everyone has the same moral and values.”
And that much is clear. Someone posted on the Chilliwack BC Hiking Club Facebook page images of a fire pit with flames and garbage that she said was left behind near Chipmunk Caves.
One person responded that a mess was left behind on the Bench Road in the Chilliwack River Valley as well, and someone else said there were a lot of empty beer cans around Chilliwack Lake.
Chilliwack city councillor and outdoor tourism advocate Sam Waddington says the problem is getting worse as more and more people get outside, which should be a good thing.
“The growth and popularity of getting outside and getting camping has escalated quicker than the knowledge that comes with that: being a steward of wild places,” Waddington said.
He added that the reason places in the Easter Fraser Valley are hit harder and harder by the problem is that from Squamish all the way to Stave Lake has become very restricted and heavily used.
“Almost all the bad traffic and the people who want to act like it’s the last frontier have now moved out to Stave West, Harrison, Jones Lake and the Chilliwack River Valley.”
As to the specific problem of partiers leaving messes behind on the May long weekend, Waddington blames grad parties, which will only increase in the coming weeks as the end of the school year approaches.
“The grad party factor is bigger than people realize,” he said. “Jones [Lake] can’t handle another 10 years of grad parties destroying it with nobody enforcing the rules.”
There are a number of local groups dedicated to cleaning up around local waterways, including the Chilliwack/Vedder River Cleanup Society, which held its most recent cleanup along the Vedder on April 22. Next up on Sept. 24 they are meeting at the Chilliwack Fish and Game Club (48685 Chilliwack Lake Rd.) for a cleanup of the Chilliwack River as part of BC Rivers Day.
The group has even created a “Hot Spot Cleanup Squad” to tackle problem areas in between scheduled cleanups.
Fraser Riverkeeper is another organization dedicated to keeping the area clean.