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.

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 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

Surrey’s newest task force aims to find ‘innovative’ ways to bring in revenue

McCallum says city’s revenue sources shouldn’t ‘completely rely on the taxpayer all the time’

Calling a snow day – or not – is a big decision for Surrey public schools

There’s much to consider before cancelling classes for 73,948 Surrey students

White Rock RCMP tells public to yield to pedestrians at marked crosswalks

Police force received a number of complaints about crosswalk safety

No Surrey Knights or White Rock Whalers on league all-star team

PJHL squad will battle Vancouver Island league standouts in Delta on Jan. 26

White Rock BNSF train whistles to be silenced by end of month

Whistle will sound if people or animals are on the track

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Airliner crash a mistake that pleased Iran’s enemies: Supreme Leader Khamenei

Iran’s supreme leader says dowining of Flight 752 was a bitter accident in rare sermon

Sub-zero B.C. weather freezes clothing in just 45 minutes

A local photographer decided to have some fun with the frosty weather before its gone

Special prosecutor to review Cranbrook toddler drowning case

Evidence disclosure at issue in the case of a woman sentenced for criminal negligence causing death

UPDATE: Supreme Court dismisses B.C.’s appeal in Trans Mountain pipeline case

Judges decide whether B.C.’s power to protect environment can include impeding a federal project

10 B.C. cities break temperature records in winter storm

Quesnel dipped to -41.9 C, breaking a record from 1916

Vancouver Island child struck, pinned under SUV while sledding

Boy suffers serious injuries, no charges laid in incident

VIDEO: Lower Mainland principal makes ‘Moana’-themed snow day music video

Kendra Simonetto parodied “How Far I’ll Go” to share weather updates with her students

Most Read