UPDATE: More than 1,000 syringes found at notorious Chilliwack homeless camp

Clean-up of site on the river bed began Tuesday with helicopter working on the job Wednesday

More than 1,000 syringes, evidence of cooking methamphetamine, along with huge piles of garbage and stolen items were among what was found at a homeless camp on the banks of the Chilliwack River as cleanup began Tuesday.

Natural Resource Officers from the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resources (FLNR), accompanied by RCMP and Griffin Security, finally attended to the notorious camp known to be the final destination for stolen goods from nearby Chilliwack properties.

Not surprisingly, it also turned out to be rife with evidence of drug use.

Syringes seen in the homeless camp in the banks of the Chilliwack River near the Vedder Bridge. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)<

“We have just about filled a five-gallon sharps container,” Brian Goldstone with Griffin Security said Tuesday evening of 1,315 needles his team gathered at the site on the north side of the river just up from the Vedder Bridge near Teskey Rock.

Drew Goldstone of Griffin said when they opened up one tent they found what appeared to be evidence of not just drug use but a meth lab, littered with butane tanks and a harsh chemical smell.

After the careful sweep of the camp by Natural Resource Officers and security on Tuesday, the job of piling the garbage and debris began.

On Wednesday, a helicopter began lifting 50 large totes and four nets full of trash and metal from the site to a staging area and a waiting garbage truck on the Soowahlie First Nation across the river.

Some neighbours and river users had complained about the individuals in the camp for months, pointing to obviously stolen goods throughout the camp and the environmental mess as water rose.

“It’s an environmental hazard,” local angler James McGillivary said in November. “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.”

• READ MORE: Chilliwack River homeless campers handed trespass notices

The site is subject to a special order under section 58 of the Forest and Range Practices Act forbidding any camping of any kind by anyone on the property. Camping there is also a violation of the Land Act.

Trespass notices were issued to the campers on Nov. 28, ordering them out within seven to 14 days.

Where the campers have gone is unclear, although Natural Resource Officers (NRO) at the scene said they asked, and all those in the camp were co-operative and said they had other places to go. Representatives from social services and the Salvation Army have already visited the site to talk to campers.

While The Progress was talking to officers near the road on Tuesday, a young man on a BMX bike rode further into the Chilliwack River Valley. He had a backpack with a chainsaw strapped to it and an axe handle sticking out.

Moments later three other individuals made their way east on Chilliwack Lake Road. Rumours of another camp further up the valley could not be confirmed, and the officers were not aware of one.

Asked what took so long for the crackdown and cleanup — which will be expensive particularly because of the helicopter — one NRO said compassion was part of it.

“There is a compassion issue,” NRO Murray Watt said. “They are homeless.”

But the practical problem is one of resources. NROs Robert Cunneyworth and Curt Bueckert said the wildfires this summer further strapped resources at an already busy Chilliwack office.

The camp on the Chilliwack River 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.

READ MORE: More than 17,000 pounds of garbage removed from Chilliwack River homeless camp

The NROs on Tuesday confirmed that some of those in the camp being dismantled this week came from that first camp.

See www.theprogress.com this week for an update on the cleanup and a total of syringes found.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The homeless camp in the banks of the Chilliwack River near the Vedder Bridge just metres away from signs prohibiting camping and polluting. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

The homeless camp in the banks of the Chilliwack River near the Vedder Bridge. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Paul Henderson/ The Progress A helicopter removes one of 50 totes and four nets full of garbage from a homeless camp on the banks of the Chilliwack River during a cleanup on Dec. 6. For video, find this story online at www.theprogress.com A helicopter removes one of 50 totes and four nets full of garbage from a homeless camp on the banks of the Chilliwack River during a cleanup on Dec. 6. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Just Posted

UPDATE: Traffic moving again after rollover on Highway 1 in Chilliwack

This is the second collision in four days in the same area of the highway in the ess curves

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

PJHL delays start of season as teams struggle to secure facilities

The junior B hockey league was hoping to start Sept. 29 but is now targeting mid-October

Abbotsford has a COVID-19 rate 10 times higher than Chilliwack

Abbotsford has been much harder hit by COVID-19 than its neighbour to the east

Missing Chilliwack woman last seen on Wednesday

Friends and family concerned for Joy-Lynn Leon, 42, who was last seen Sept. 23 on Mary Street

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

VIDEO: COVID won’t dampen Lower Mainland woman’s Halloween spirit

Langley’s Tanya Reid posted video offering suggestions of how trick-or-treating might look for her

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Father hopes journey to aviation-safety program inspires hope

Former South Surrey resident Greg Sewell hasn’t given up on quest to mandate older-plane retrofits

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Most Read