A mountain of problems

Anger and frustration from people living on or near Vedder Mountain was evident at another public meeting.

Anger and frustration from people living on or near Vedder Mountain was evident at another public meeting held last week to find ways to end the illegal dumping and abuse in the area.

More than 100 people turned out, representing the diverse interests of those who enjoy the mountain either as their home, or as their playground. (Setting a new vision for Vedder Mountain, Chilliwack Progress, April 2.)

Their anger stems from the piles of garbage routinely dumped on both public and private land.

Frustration comes from the fact that few seem able to do anything about it.

Sadly, they are not alone in their concern.

Residents in Chilliwack River Valley are all too aware of illegal dumping, loud parties and destructive behaviour. People from Harrison, Mission and Maple Ridge all share the same stories. In fact, almost any rural property within the Lower Mainland has experienced the abuse.

Part of the reason, ironically, is our effort to be more environmentally responsible. Higher tipping fees aimed at encouraging more recycling have left a selfish few looking for cheaper options.

But a bigger problem is the simple disregard for others.

How else can we explain the thought process that concludes dumping garbage along a forestry road for others to pick up is okay? Or that firing a weapon without due regard for what may be in the line of fire is responsible? Or that taking down someone’s gate to trespass across private land to party is in any way respectful?

But as baffling as this behaviour may seem to most of us, more challenging is finding a solution.

City’s like Surrey have imposed tough new penalties, and even instituted roving monitored surveillance of problem sites.

But those options would prove more challenging here, where jurisdictional responsibility is not so clear. Tough fines mean little without adequate enforcement.

That’s why efforts to convert the 3,200 hectares of Crown land on Vedder Mountain into an “interpretive forest site” is so appealing. The move would open up additional funding that would enable better maintenance of the area.

It may not be perfect. But it would be a step toward protecting an area enjoyed by many, yet being ruined by a few.