VIDEO: Local developers haul syringe-ladened camper from Fraser River

Mess sat at Peg Leg Bar in Chilliwack for weeks as people tried to secure funding for cleanup

There are those who complain, those who work towards solutions, and then there are those who just do it.

Tony Gore woke up Wednesday morning disgusted by the thought of an old camper full of garbage, chemicals and used syringes sitting in the Fraser River at Peg Leg Bar, so he decided to do something about it.

The Progress posted a Facebook live video on Tuesday afternoon showing the camper that had been stuck in the river bottom along the banks at Peg Leg.

Click on video below to also see more still photos of the cleanup.

The camper sat there since at least mid-January. Back then and up until recently, members of local riverkeeper groups had been in contact with the B.C. Conservation Officer Service (COS) to remove the mess from the Fraser.

Apparently both the RCMP and the COS were looking to secure funding to have the camper removed, but weeks passed, the river level dropped, and still it remained more and more of the crumbling structure showing.

But after Tony Gore saw the mess via social media, he decided to take action.

“We grew up down here on McDonald Road,” Tony said at Peg Leg on Wednesday morning. “We used to play down here as kids all the time, and when we saw your video it just kind of made us disgusted with the chemicals and stuff.

“Everyone was trying to figure out how to clean it up, we thought you know what, just bring our crew down and hammer it off. Get ‘er done.”

So Tony called his brothers Mark and Lee, got together a crew of eight in total and they went down to remove the camper from the water.

Along with the Gores were Lee’s son Jesse Gore, and workers Jeff Young, Kevin Erickson, Tonny Cormier and Crystal Dawn Poe.

Inside the camper the crew found paint cans, propane canisters, the camper’s toilet, lots of other garbage, but also hundreds of used syringes. They brought down a sharps container to collect those syringes and even found another sharps container in the camper.

“All those needles,” Mark said. “They are not going anywhere.”

The Gore brothers are fourth-generation Chilliwack residents who run their eponymous residential development company. They specialize in renovations and are most known for their work refurbishing the former military base’s permanent married quarters at Garrison Crossing.

They’ve also dealt with hoarder houses and even were featured on an episode of Hoarding: Buried Alive.

In short, they are used to cleaning up messy situations.

As they tackled the camper Wednesday, they demolished it as best they could, dragging large pieces out of the water using a pickup truck and a chain, and smaller pieces by hand. But after so much time there, the wooden bottom of the camper was seriously embedded in the muck on the river bed.

Solution?

Brave employee Kevin Erickson took off his sweater and went right into the frigid Fraser to wrap the chain around the chunk.

“Very cold, extremely cold,“ Erickson said as he emerged from the water, returning several more times to wrap the chain around more pieces.

By noon the job was done, and the team received lots of praise on social media for tackling the project.

Anyone interested in helping with the various cleanup groups in Chilliwack, on March 24 Woodtone hosts the 11th Annual Fraser River Cleanup from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. meeting at Gill Road. And then on April 21, the Chilliwack Vedder River Cleanup Society hosts its April river cleanup from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. meeting at the Great Blue Heron Reserve.

• RELATED: Volunteers pitch in to clean up big mess in Chilliwack River Valley

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


@PeeJayAitch
paul.henderson@theprogress.com

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