When Natural Resource Officers cleaned up two homeless camps in Chilliwack last week more than 20,000 pounds (9,000 kilograms) of garbage was removed.
Long the subject of complaints over syringes and stolen property, one camp on the banks and on an island in the Chilliwack River was taken down using a helicopter paid for by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development.
The second camp was near Island 22 on the banks of the Fraser River a few days later.
“The total weight of the refuse [removed] was 21,540 pounds,” according to a government spokesperson. “Of that, 1,654 pounds of metal was recycled.”
The rest of the garbage was disposed of at a landfill. The cleanup cost was approximately $20,000, a bill paid for by the province.
During the cleanup Dec. 5 and 6, Griffin Security who helped out said they found 1,315 needles at the site just up from the Vedder Bridge near Teskey Rock.
That camp was set up soon after another one not far away was taken down in March. That camp saw the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources remove 17,138 pounds of garbage and hundreds of syringes.
Neighbours and river users have been complaining about the camp for months because of garbage left behind, evidence of drug use, and obviously stolen property. Natural Resource Officers said the reason it took so long to crack down on the illegal camp was a shortage of resources, as ministry staff were busy all summer into the fall with the wildfires in the interior.
The site was 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 went was unclear, although Natural Resource Officers (NRO) at the scene said all those in the camp were co-operative and said they had other places to go.
Unconfirmed reports on social media this week say a camp is set up yet again in the Chilliwack River Valley on the north side, this time deeper in the woods further east of the camp cleaned up Dec. 6.
An even larger homeless camp in Chilliwack on the Kwaw-kwaw-Apilt First Nation behind Townsend Park may be taken down soon, as The Progress has heard reports the people in there were issued eviction notices late last week.