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

WIN: Langley thespian stars in upcoming ‘psychological thriller’

Langley’s Andrew Wood plays the role of Lieutenant Walker in Night Watch.

Make-A-Wish BC grants Langley girl’s wish

Mae Ten Haaf battled a brain tumour much of her young life, and recently returned from Disney World.

Vandals trash new washrooms in Langley City park

Less than two weeks after the Penzer Park facility opened, it had to be closed

Mark Warawa won’t run in the next election

Langley MP issues a statement about his impending retirement from politics.

Giants defenceman Bowen Byram named WHL On the Run Player of the Week

Registered three goals and three assists in a pair of victories for Langley-based team

VIDEO: Car flies across median, flips over edge of Brunette overpass

Dash cam footage shows a vehicle speeding across a Lower Mainland overpass

Surrey needs 350 more cops, activist tells council

‘Right now we are 350 police behind what our population requires,’ politicians are told

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Where mattresses go to die

Mattress Recycling opens the largest of its kind mattress-recycling facility in Hope

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Most Read