Pitching in to clean up an eyesore

Trent Ernst, Editor


With pitch-in week happening this week (May 11-15) a group of residents got into the act a few days early.

Above Flatbed Creek is an old gravel pit that, for years has been treated like a second town dump. Abandoned automobiles, old shingles, industrial waste, the area has been an eyesore and a hazard. And for years, nobody has wanted to take responsibility for the area.

“Has been an eyesore”, because. as of last weekend, the area has been cleaned up.

The clean-up was a community effort, organized by Tim Croston.  He says there were 55 people who signed the sheet, and he knows there were a few who didn’t sign. “I was blown away with the response we had,” says Croston. “I know many people only get weekends off, so to take a day and help with this is absolutely phenomenal.”

The event has been in the works for month, and Croston has been promoting it via word of mouth and Facebook. A few months ago, he approached the District to inform them of his plan, and a number of town Councillors hopped in to help. Don McPherson brought a small picker truck and tractor with bucket, Councillor Kirby showed up with husband Pernell with a Bobcat, while Councillor Krakowka over at Shop Easy supplied lunch for the crew.

The District pitched in, too, supplying a loader. While most of the stuff was moved down to the dump, not all of it was. On Monday, ABC Recycling went out to load up the pile of steel and vehicles that the workers had collected.

Croston says he showed up at 8:30 and was there until after 6, though most people were gone by 3. “The one guy from CRS, Andy Larrivee, said he was going to go up there the next day, too.”

In all, says Croston, more than twenty pickups and trailers full of junk were hauled out, along with another twenty or so dump truck loads full of concrete and shingles. “There was a lot of junk,” says Croston. “We hauled non-stop.”

Of all the stuff hauled out of there, says Croston, the absolute worst was a freezer full of rotten meat. “It got dumped over,” he says. “All you could smell all day was the stench of rotten meat.”

While that was the worst, Croston says the thing that surprised him the most was the amount of shingles up there. “We hauled at least six trucks full of shingles. People have been dumping up there for years.”

He says there were old TVs, vacuum cleaners, tires, steel bins, steel drums, thousands of empty bullet casings that was cleaned up. “There was a little bit of everything.”

One of the most disappointing discoveries was waste left over from the work that was done on the Murray River bridge last year. Croston says he’s already brought it up with MLA Mike Bernier, though he hasn’t heard back.

“We got a lot more accomplished that I thought we would. I wasn’t expecting to get all the concrete out of there, for instance. There are still some more loads of asphalt and shingles to get out of there, but other than that we basically got everything.”

But how does the town keep this from happening again? Croston sighs. “That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? We no sooner got it done than there were people up there dumping beer bottles and cans the very next day. I think people need to be vigilant; if people are getting their roof re-shingled, they need to ask the question ‘where are you hauling this to?’ It’s these fly-by-night contractors who are coming into town who find out that you can’t dump them at the transfer station, and who are unwilling to haul them to Chetwynd. It’s not everyone certainly, but there are some.

“The District might also need to spend some money to prevent this. A sign would be something, but my guess is that within a week the sign would be shot up. Education is good, but you’re never going to educate the stupidity out of all people. I don’t know why people have such a lack of respect for the environment. I know I for one will be keeping a close eye on this area in the future. We need to look after our area before they start putting gates across every road. Don’t think for a minute that it can’t happen.”