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)

Hundreds of syringes removed at notorious Chilliwack River homeless camp

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

Hundreds of needles, evidence of cooking methamphetamine, along with 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 found 305 needles so far in one camp,” Drew Goldstone with Griffin Security said at around noon Tuesday as they conducted sweeps of various camping sites on the north side of the river just up from the Vedder Bridge near Teskey Rock.

By the end of counting that day, that had quadrupled to something close to 1,200 syringes.

“We have just about filled a five-gallon sharps container,” Brian Goldstone with Griffin said Tuesday evening.

Some neighbours and river users have 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

Trespass notices were issued to the campers on Nov. 28, ordering them out within seven to 14 days.

Where the campers will go is somewhat uncertain, although Natural Resource Officers (NRO) at the scene said they asked, and all those present 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, one individual on a BMX bike with a backpack with an axe handle sticking out and a chainsaw strapped to it slowly rode further into the Chilliwack River Valley.

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 and involve a helicopter on Wednesday — one NRO said compassion was part of it.

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

But the practical problem is one of resources.

The site is subject to an order under section 58 of the Forest and Range Practices Act forbidding any camping of any kind by anyone on the property. But talking about the issue, NRO Robert Cunneyworth and Curt Bueckert said the wildfires this summer strapped resources for an already busy Chilliwack office.

The camp 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 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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

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

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

Just Posted

Vandals deface Aldergrove elementary school with racist slur, male genitalia

Langley School District confirms it has filed a report with the Langley RCMP

‘Our hands are tied’: Langley Good Times Cruise-In announces cancellation due to COVID-19

People are encouraged to donate to the chosen Langley charities online, said Cruise-In director

Langley Township lifts evacuation alert as flooding threat drops

People are still advised to avoid the Fraser River due to fast running water

Langley nurse wins yard makeover in contest for frontline workers

The free yardwork helped relieve some of the stress for a Willoughby nurse and mom

Rideshare expands into Aldergrove

As of Thursday, Lyft is now offering service throughout Metro Vancouver

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

BREAKING: Amber Alert for two Quebec girls cancelled after bodies found

Romy Carpentier, 6, Norah Carpentier, 11, and their father, Martin Carpentier, missing since Wednesday

Bringing support to Indigenous students and communities, while fulfilling a dream

Mitacs is a nonprofit organization that operates research and training programs

B.C. man prepares to be first to receive double-hand transplant in Canada

After the surgery, transplant patients face a long recovery

Grocers appear before MPs to explain decision to cut pandemic pay

Executives from three of Canada’s largest grocery chains have defended their decision to end temporary wage increases

Man shot dead in east Abbotsford suburbs

Integrated Homicide Investigative Team called to investigate

Most Read