A small team of volunteers from Hope Mountain Centre hauled a large amount of trash away from Peers Creek during last weekend’s cleanup.
Over five hours on Saturday, Sept. 25, Kelly Pearce said they gathered enough garbage to fill four pickup trucks.
“We found a horrendous range of stuff, including vehicle parts and lots of broken glass,” Hope Mountain Centre’s program director said. “The fiberglass canopy of a pickup truck was burned in a bonfire and we had to scoop all the fiber and ash up with shovels to get it into bags. And there was the usual disgusting mix of baby diapers and drywall and all the other household garbage you find. People would rather drive to the end of these roads and randomly dump this stuff than take it to a proper transfer station.
The volunteers hauled the trash to the Hope Transfer Station where the Fraser Valley Regional District and the District of Hope covered the tipping costs, which can run anywhere from $10 to $25, depending on how heavy a load is.
Pearce came away from the experience feeling angry.
“They turn these beautiful backwoods areas into disgusting dumps, and it’s so profoundly wrong in so many ways,” he said. “People are driven by their own convenience and saving $10 or $15. They just ruin beautiful areas and the stuff that they leave there continues polluting for years.”
The impact on waterways and aquatic habitats is obvious, but Pearce said the garbage is damaging in another way.
“A lot of it is smelly, leftover food that’s going to attract wildlife, particularly bears,” he explained. “That can play a role in habituating bears to human food sources. That puts campers who are camping nearby in jeopardy, and it leads to the destruction of bears. When they get spoiled, they don’t get relocated, they get shot. A fed bear is a dead bear.”
The volunteers didn’t get everything out of the area.
Pearce said there are still a couple of abandoned vehicles waiting to be hauled out. It’s going to cost several hundred dollars to bring a flatbed truck in, load them up and take them to a proper disposal site and FVRD has offered to cover the costs of that.
“That’s very much appreciated,” Pearce said.
The Peers Creek cleanup usually takes place once a year, twice if high school grads make a mess of the area over the May long weekend.
“Peers Creek is at the western end of a beautiful trail and we think it’s important to keep it looking good and not have it become an eyesore,” Pearce said. “And while we don’t have any more cleanups planned in the near future, when there’s another bad garbage dump that is found elsewhere, we alert the troops and move in.”