The group of individuals who have been illegally camping on Crown land in the Chilliwack River Valley have less than two weeks to be gone.
The campers were issued trespass notices on Tuesday under the Land Act, which means they have between seven and 14 days to be gone, according to the provincial government.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations told The Progress last week that enforcement was coming by early this week. He confirmed the evictions were ordered on Nov. 28, giving them until Dec. 12 to be gone with their possessions.
|Syringes seen in the homeless camp in the banks of the Chilliwack River near the Vedder Bridge. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)<|
The now notorious homeless camp near Teskey Rock just up-river from the Vedder Bridge is littered with syringes, garbage and various tools and household items many neighbours say have been stolen from homes in the area.
The site is full of bikes and bike parts, backyard tools, electronic items, clothing, DVDs, sports equipment and garbage, including syringes.
The camp has been there for months, at least since another nearby camp was dismantled in March. There, officials removed more than 17,000 pounds of garbage and hundreds of syringes.
Resident and local angler James McGillivary is angry nothing was done about the camp he has been complaining about for weeks.
“It’s an environmental hazard,” he said. “It’s on a flood plain. Once the water comes up, the needles and stuff I’ve seen down there is going to flow through the river system and stab some poor fisherman.”
That was before the high water that hit on Nov. 23 at which time a great deal of garbage and even syringes were covered and water, some washing down river.
McGillivary is happy the site will be cleaned up but he calls it “too little too late.”
The camp and others further to the west have been there for months, but with the foliage dropping in autumn, the mess became plain to see form Chilliwack Lake Road. A ministry spokesperson said a Natural Resource Officer and a Conservation Officer visited on Oct. 31 at which time the illegal occupants were spoken with and given a verbal warning they would be evicted soon.
Looking past the alleged and ongoing property crime, the drug paraphernalia discarded and other environmental mess left behind, some critics have suggested these people have nowhere to go.
“A lot of work goes into organizing the dismantling of illegal camps and many different interest groups are involved,” the ministry spokesperson said.
That includes the ministries of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (Natural Resource Officers), and Environment and Climate Change Strategy (Conservation Officer Service), along with the City of Chilliwack, RCMP, social workers, security and a disposal company.
Also likely to get involved are local cleanup groups, and the Soowahlie First Nation has some interest in the land in question.
After Dec. 12, Land Act seizure notices will be served on anyone left, and RCMP, BCOS officers and others “participating in this project” will move in to clean up.