By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: January 29, 2018
A local trail group is calling upon land managers from the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource operations to act promptly to ensure illegal camping and dumping sites are thoroughly removed and remediated.
Fourteen volunteers and six district employees worked throughout the day of December 12, 2017 to pick up and remove four dump truck loads of debris from an abandoned, illegal encampment distributed along the floodplain of the Mamquam River.
Some of the trash needed to be dug out of the silt, sand and mud deposited by the flood waters, according to Squamish Trails Society, whose members helped with the cleanup.
STS believes a robust and prompt response was warranted. The illegal campsite on the Mamquam River was served with an eviction notice on February 2017 but at the end of the 21 day limit for camping, the individuals should have been delivered a formal eviction order.
A robust eviction order would have allowed authorities to remove the collection of material at this site and coordinate the help of others in helping to do this. The camp, however, continued to operate until it was washed out by heavy rain while the flood waters swept the debris downriver over a significant area, the society noted. It made the cleanup that much harder.
“A robust eviction order would have allowed authorities to remove the collection of material at this site and coordinate the help of others in helping to do this. The Crown needs to communicate to the police and to the District of Squamish By-law and Operations departments, who in turn communicate to community groups willing to help,” the society recently informed the district.
Squamish Trail Society’s Matt Parker said the group wants to draw attention to “this unfortunate event” so similar events in the future can be avoided. “We are cognizant of and sensitive to the conditions which sometimes lead to encampments such as this to form and thus realize that other agencies and organizations may need to be involved in a comprehensive manner to address these situations as they arise,” Parker said.
Squamish Trails Society, Mamquam River Access Society, Squamish Environmental Conservation Society, and Squamish Streamkeepers have offered to help in monitoring these encampments for environmental hazards and to dismantle them in the future. There was at least 14 community members who were part of the cleanup and have contributed at least 100 hours and the clean up is not finished, said trails group member Carl Halvorson.
—– photos by Tim Cyr