In a small strip of forest between houses off Rockland Road in Campbell River, a group of of volunteers trudged through the mud, digging up decades worth of garbage and pulling it out of there.
People from Greenways Land Trust, the Simms Creek Streamkeepers and the Ministry of of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development were working on the first clean up day of 2022. They were tackling a tributary of Simm’s Creek, where a local resident had tipped Greenways representative Katherine Lavoie off about a considerable amount of garbage.
“A really lovely citizen in the area brought it to my attention and I contacted our primary Simms Creek steward and we set this up,” said Lavoie. “This is the first one that we’ve done this year. We often do invasive species removal and stuff like that throughout the year. Probably five to 10 times, and a lot more with school groups.”
Part of the reason this particular spot was important to clean was that bears can sometimes get into garbage. Apart from contravening city bylaws, keeping garbage secured can help keep bears safe in the area.
“You want to secure your garbage so that bears don’t get into it,” Lavoie said. “They strew it about the stream, which is bad for the stream’s health, and they get habituated into eating garbage in urban settings.
“It’s bad for bear safety. If they get habituated, then they’re not good candidates for relocation. Unfortunately, every year bears get destroyed because they get habituated.
“You want them to have to find food elsewhere.”
It was not long before a large pile of garbage had amassed. Among the things found in the stream area were an old microwave, a bicycle, a broken trampoline, some patio chairs and construction material. While those large items are not likely spread around by bears and other wildlife, there was evidence of smaller household garbage that some kind of critter had gotten into. In one spot, it looked like a small animal was using chip wrappers for bedding.
“If you ever see something like this, it’s really good to call the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line to report pollution, poachers and things like that,” Lavoie said.
The RAPP line is 1-877-952-RAPP (7277). Violations can also be reported online.