Unauthorized garbage dumps are an ongoing issue throughout the CVRD and the Cowichan Lake district is no exception. The Valley Fish and Game Club has identified 35 such sites in this area and are inviting the public to help clean them up this weekend.
On April 23, the club is hosting its 28th annual Environmental Cleanup event and hopes members of the public will roll up their sleeves and join in.
“We’re asking folks to come down to Saywell Park and we’ll designate [a site] for them to clean,” said co-ordinator Denis Martel. “We will have a bin at Saywell Park so that everyone sees how much stuff we’re collecting.”
Martel said the group collected 41 tonnes of garbage during its very first environmental cleanup, although tipping restrictions imposed since then will make matching or surpassing that amount impossible this weekend.
“What we don’t clean up on Saturday, the wilderness watch will continue on throughout the year,” he said.
The Valley Fish and Game Club will provide volunteers with disposable gloves and industrial strength garbage bags. Everyone will be required to sign in and sign out when they finish. Martel asked that volunteers bring their cellphones in case of an emergency, and to wear steel toe boots or other kinds of durable footwear to protect against sharp objects they may encounter amongst the garbage.
Speaking with the Gazette at the site of illegal dumping, Martel expressed frustration with the all-too-common problem. The location, on a dirt road just outside of Lake Cowichan and only metres from South Shore Road, smelled of rotting food. An unknown person or persons had left piles of garbage, recyclables and food waste there and buried them beneath evergreen bows.
“We’ve got a lot of trash here. A lot of recyclables, too,” said Martel. “These plastics and this wood could all be recycled.”
Much of the plastic at this location could have been recycled free of charge at Meade Creek or Bings Creek recycling centres.
The fee for dropping garbage at a CVRD facility is $140 per tonne. There is a $280 per tonne penalty fine for dropping off garbage containing recyclables.
Martel said illegal dumpers are wrong if they think they’re saving time by disposing of their garbage in wooded areas around the lake.
“Use Meade Creek and use Bings,” he said. “It doesn’t take you any longer to dump it here than it does to dump it at Meades Creek.”
Saturday’s cleanup begins at 9 a.m. at Saywell Park. Lunch will be provided by Country Grocer.