A large group of volunteers cleaned up a huge mess of garbage and abandoned items along the Chilliwack River on Thursday (Dec. 29).
Someone or multiple people had been living, and hoarding, in an RV right on the bank of the river near Allison Pool for a very long time.
But recently the site was abandoned. As the river rose with rain and snow melt, the massive piles of debris were at risk of being washed into the river.
River advocate Ross Aikenhead has been complaining for months to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRO), the ministry responsible for stewardship of Crown lands, about the mess at this site but nothing was done.
City councillor Jason Lum, who is also the chair of the Fraser Valley Regional District board, was trying to get help from the province, but in the end, volunteers decided to do it themselves.
Aikenhead posted a photo of the mess as the water was rising to his Facebook page, and the comments lit up.
(More photos below)
But they did more than just comment. A number of people got together with a plan to clean it up.
Zeeshan Khan who runs volunteer non-profit Streams Foundation Canada in Chilliwack got on board with several other volunteers.
Wayne Furness brought out his excavator and helped dispose of the old RV. Patti MacAhonic who is FVRD director for the Chilliwack River Valley came out as well, and the crews cleaned it all up.
“Thank you for taking this initiative Ross Aikenhead,” Khan posted on Facebook with some photos.
“You took the initiative to do something about it and inspired others to join.”
Homeless encampments and illegal squatting in the Chilliwack River Valley has been a problem for several years. Several sites have seen abandoned recreational vehicles, tents, personal belongings and garbage left for weeks and months.
Back in 2017, an elaborate effort was undertaken to remove 7.8 tonnes of garbage and hundreds of syringes from an area on the Chilliwack River close to the Vedder Bridge.
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