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Another cache of dumped drywall in Chilliwack prompts suggestion to block access

Pile of drywall likely asbestos containing discarded in wildlife management area
Bert Brink Wildlife Management Area was the site of illegally dumped drywall reported on April 19, 2021. (Michael Hill photo)

Illegally dumped drywall has been discovered again in Chilliwack — this time in a wildlife management area.

“Once again we are getting calls about asbestos bags, drywall, being dumped in places other than the landfill,” said building inspector Michael Hill.

As a registered building inspector who also does high-risk abatement work, he’s often hired to clear deconstruction sites of elements containing hazardous materials like asbestos.

Hill was dispatched to a location this week to check out illegal dumping at the end of Cannor Road, west of Chilliwack on the north side, within the Bert Brink Wildlife Management Area.

There were branches thrown over the pile of construction waste. It had obviously had been there a while.

“It looks like someone tried to camouflage it,” he said.

The pile of rained-on drywall might weigh 300 pounds. There’s a piece where the “oc” in “Gyproc” can be made out, which suggests building materials from the 1970s, he said. He’ll have to dig down a few inches to get out every offending piece, and hopes City of Chilliwack will be waiving the dump fees.

“Especially with older materials like Gyproc, there’s a 99-per-cent chance it’s asbestos containing, which is why it’s there in the bush and not in a landfill.”

It’s frustrating so see the criminal approach to disposing of these dangerous and toxic materials, he said.

“We are going to provide the cleanup service at no cost to the wildlife society, but once again we would like to bring public awareness to this sad, disturbing issue, and underline that it’s a criminal and dangerous act,” Hill said.

The wildlife area is co-owned and managed by Ducks Unlimited Canada and the Province of B.C. and Hill got the call from provincial government official to investigate.

This is the first time he’s ever come across illegal dumping in a sensitive protected area.

There were several asbestos-laden dumps reported in the past few years on Crown land and in the back country around Chilliwack.

Consequently there needs to be more public awareness, and maybe less public access to these types of protected areas, Hill said.

Perhaps it’s time to suggest the land should not be accessible this way, he said. The entrance needs to be barricaded, unfortunately.

It’s a mistake to allow public access to the area, he said, adding he saw lots of activity, fire pits, and sketchy people and potential stolen goods in the area.

“Those lands are protected for a reason,” Hill stressed.

Maybe the dumper was someone was over their 20-bag limit, he said, referring to City of Chilliwack rules at the Bailey Landfill that changed a few years ago around accepting asbestos.

“That was a concerning issue right from the beginning,” Hill said. “We knew it was just a matter of time, and that it would lead to bad things like dumping, and here we are.”

RELATED: Bagged limits could become an issue, says inspector

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Bert Brink Wildlife Management Area was the site of illegally dumped drywall reported on April 19, 2021. (Michael Hill photo)

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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