Illegal back country garbage dumping is really out of hand across Chilliwack.
That’s the assessment of Denny Chretien, a member of the B.C. Conservation Officer Service for the Fraser Valley zone.
With water levels coming up now with the approach of spring freshet, he doesn’t want to see a repeat of last April when a gutted and torched trailer was left on the shore of the Fraser River and almost washed downstream.
The sandbar was on prime fish habitat in one of the greatest wild salmon-producing rivers in the world, with back channels used for sturgeon rearing.
“It’s been a constant dilemma,” said Chretien. “Within that last year or two, we’ve been tasked with looking at it with an eye to build a new strategy and methods to prevent the illegal garbage dumping.”
A public meeting to tackle the topic of trash dumping in Chilliwack is set for March 13 at Yarrow elementary at 6 p.m.
The problem ranges from access points along the Fraser River, the Chilliwack/Vedder River, in the Chilliwack River Valley and on Vedder Mountain, to around the base of the Agassiz-Rosedale bridge.
“It’s also a personal thing for the Conservation Officer Service, as it speaks to the heart of what we do. We’re the back country cop and the policy agency meant to take care of this. Everywhere we go out here, we’re finding these places.”
There’s toxic trash and chemicals from suspected meth labs and grow-ops, mattresses, vehicle batteries, shotgun shells, camping equipment, old furniture and more.
“There’s tonnes and tonnes of this stuff.”
Introducing waste to the environment is an infraction under the provincial regulations.
“It’s taking away from the beauty of the area, and it can eventually trickle down and impact human health.”
There are volunteer cleanup groups hitting the worst spots regularly around Chilliwack, but still the garbage continues to be strewn repeatedly on vulnerable riparian zones and pristine habitat.
“This is a way to bolster that community effort.”
There are plans afoot to amp up surveillance and patrols.
They’re also urging more people to call the RAPP line at 1-877-952-7277 to report everything from pollution to poachers.
“We want the public to note licence plates and call this in.”
The meeting next Wednesday in Yarrow should raise awareness and interest among people interested in seeing an end to the destructive dumping.
Chretien said the plan is to show some slides, talk about the laws, what people can do about trash dumping and then open the floor for questions.