UPDATE: More than 1,000 syringes found at notorious Chilliwack homeless camp

Clean-up of site on the river bed began Tuesday with helicopter working on the job Wednesday

More than 1,000 syringes, evidence of cooking methamphetamine, along with huge piles of garbage and stolen items were among what was found at a homeless camp on the banks of the Chilliwack River as cleanup began Tuesday.

Natural Resource Officers from the Ministry of Forests Lands and Natural Resources (FLNR), accompanied by RCMP and Griffin Security, finally attended to the notorious camp known to be the final destination for stolen goods from nearby Chilliwack properties.

Not surprisingly, it also turned out to be rife with evidence of drug use.

Syringes seen in the homeless camp in the banks of the Chilliwack River near the Vedder Bridge. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)<

“We have just about filled a five-gallon sharps container,” Brian Goldstone with Griffin Security said Tuesday evening of 1,315 needles his team gathered at the site on the north side of the river just up from the Vedder Bridge near Teskey Rock.

Drew Goldstone of Griffin said when they opened up one tent they found what appeared to be evidence of not just drug use but a meth lab, littered with butane tanks and a harsh chemical smell.

After the careful sweep of the camp by Natural Resource Officers and security on Tuesday, the job of piling the garbage and debris began.

On Wednesday, a helicopter began lifting 50 large totes and four nets full of trash and metal from the site to a staging area and a waiting garbage truck on the Soowahlie First Nation across the river.

Some neighbours and river users had complained about the individuals in the camp for months, pointing to obviously stolen goods throughout the camp and the environmental mess as water rose.

“It’s an environmental hazard,” local angler James McGillivary said in November. “It’s on a flood plain. Once the water comes up, the needles and stuff I’ve seen down there is going to flow through the river system and stab some poor fisherman.”

• READ MORE: Chilliwack River homeless campers handed trespass notices

The site is 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 have gone is unclear, although Natural Resource Officers (NRO) at the scene said they asked, and all those in the camp were co-operative and said they had other places to go. Representatives from social services and the Salvation Army have already visited the site to talk to campers.

While The Progress was talking to officers near the road on Tuesday, a young man on a BMX bike rode further into the Chilliwack River Valley. He had a backpack with a chainsaw strapped to it and an axe handle sticking out.

Moments later three other individuals made their way east on Chilliwack Lake Road. Rumours of another camp further up the valley could not be confirmed, and the officers were not aware of one.

Asked what took so long for the crackdown and cleanup — which will be expensive particularly because of the helicopter — one NRO said compassion was part of it.

“There is a compassion issue,” NRO Murray Watt said. “They are homeless.”

But the practical problem is one of resources. NROs Robert Cunneyworth and Curt Bueckert said the wildfires this summer further strapped resources at an already busy Chilliwack office.

The camp on the Chilliwack River has been there for months, at least since another nearby camp was dismantled in March. There, officials removed more than 17,000 pounds of garbage and hundreds of syringes.

READ MORE: More than 17,000 pounds of garbage removed from Chilliwack River homeless camp

The NROs on Tuesday confirmed that some of those in the camp being dismantled this week came from that first camp.

See www.theprogress.com this week for an update on the cleanup and a total of syringes found.


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

The homeless camp in the banks of the Chilliwack River near the Vedder Bridge just metres away from signs prohibiting camping and polluting. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

The homeless camp in the banks of the Chilliwack River near the Vedder Bridge. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Paul Henderson/ The Progress A helicopter removes one of 50 totes and four nets full of garbage from a homeless camp on the banks of the Chilliwack River during a cleanup on Dec. 6. For video, find this story online at www.theprogress.com A helicopter removes one of 50 totes and four nets full of garbage from a homeless camp on the banks of the Chilliwack River during a cleanup on Dec. 6. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Just Posted

VIDEO: Neighbours fought to extinguish Langley house fire

Firefighters arrived to find citizens dousing a blaze climbing through the walls of a Langley home.

Dear Santa: the Langley Advance presents local children’s letters to the jolly old elf

During the holidays, the Langley Advance will present letters to Santa. Here is the first selection.

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

VIDEO: Hankering for a piece of Star Wars?

A massive Star Wars memorabilia collection is going on the auction block in Langley.

Car fire destroys vehicle in Langley

Firefighters doused a car fire that sent a lot of smoke into the air in Langley.

VIDEO: Recovering addict shares art and story to motivate others

A Langley City man spends time each day painting in McBurney Plaza.

Kamloops RCMP warning public to stay away from unfolding domestic dispute

The public is being asked to avoid Sabiston Creek Road off of the highway

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

B.C. woman brain injured in crash as a baby gets $1.1 million in damages

Trial heard the woman was 16 months old, being carried by her mother when they were both hit

Family Christmas fun at Aldergrove’s Loft Country farm

The Loft Country children’s horse camp in Aldergrove is celebrating Christmas in a new way this year

Court denies WestJet’s bid to toss out discrimination lawsuit of former worker

Mandalena Lewis is suing WestJet over allegations of gender-based discrimination

VIDEO: 3 months later, rescued sea lion released back into ocean

The young animal was found in Campbell River three months ago

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

Most Read