An area near the Little Qualicum River Fish Hatchery is looking a lot better after a third, and hopefully final, day of garbage cleanup efforts by the community.
The clean up days, spread out over April, June and July, removed a total of 12.6 tons of garbage, wood waste and metal — and that’s not counting the 43 tires removed from the site, according to Benjamin Klein-Beekman, a student at Ballenas Secondary School who organized the cleanup.
He was joined by volunteers from Rotary Club of Parksville, the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, students and teachers from Ballenas High School, his parents and Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker. Crucial to the operation was assistance by Dave Bedard & Sons Contracting and their bobcat and excavator, along with the services of a skilled operator.
Ben and his father, Mike, noticed a few smaller dump sites in the area before discovering the large illegal garbage dumping site by chance, while out in the area with Bill Rawlins, of the Parksville Rotary Club.
“I think all three of us were shocked to see what was being dumped there,” Mike said. “It probably had been happening for over quite a few years. It absolutely offended us.”
Ben said he became interested in environmental issues about a year ago while taking a class from a teacher who is also an environmental activist. “She was able to help me start the project,” he said.
Ben was taken aback by the amount of garbage at the site.
“I was kind of surprised,” he said. “I knew there would be garbage, but I didn’t expect that much.”
The Klein-Beekman family encouraged people to document and consider reporting illegal dumping, if they see it, or to simply remember to help out by picking up garbage they see while out walking and hiking.
Residents can call the RAPP (Report All Poachers and Polluters) line at 1-877-952-7277. The RAPP program is a toll free tip line and online service that also allows people to report known or suspected violations of fisheries, wildlife, or environmental protection laws anonymously and without risk of confronting the offender.