BROTHEN: Not in our backyards, not in our city's backyard

Glynn Brothen

The next time you go for a casual walk in the grasslands behind Batchelor Heights, watch where you step, or your next trip will be to get a tetanus shot – there are nails everywhere.

And it’s not just nails leftover from people burning pallets for bonfires; there are busted appliances, bullets, condoms, syringes, construction materials and a couple of mattresses kicking around, too.

The city has two landfill sites. Protected grasslands isn’t one of them.

Yet some of you think it’s all right to drop whatever you don’t need any more in an area people use for recreation. Because there are a lot of people doing it, somehow the collective wrong makes a right.

Maybe it’s the city’s higher tipping fees convincing people they’re justified in tossing their crap on protected grasslands, but I suspect the reason is more apathy than protest.

Here's what gets to city officials, park rangers and conservation officers: Some of the items can be recycled for free. When you're putting yard waste in big plastic bags, do you do a double-check with yourself and think its kosher to drop them in a provincial park? That scrap metal you’re tossing behind the road has value. Dumping fees aren't prohibitively expensive, at least not when you compare the cost to the environmental damage it’s causing.

I hope when you make your drive of shame to drop your junk, you're not bringing the kids with you. The park can't afford more people learning that bad habit.

In the city, you can usually get where you need to be within ten minutes. Taking your garbage to the dump might take a bit longer and will have a price, but the costs the environment, wildlife and endangered species are facing far outweigh what you’ll pay out of wallet.

Because of a small population's ignorance, it’s up to park staff and other citizens, the ones who use the area to 4X4, to ride a bike or take a walk with their kids to clean it up. A few weeks ago a group hauled a trailer-worth of junk to the dump. There are other groups cleaning it up, too. They're trying their best to keep the park what it's supposed to be: A park.

Now while I can understand not everyone wants to spend a Saturday picking up someone else's garbage, I offer a suggestion. Take that smart phone you're packing around with you and snap a photo the next time you see someone trashing a place we all value in some way. Get the license plate information and evidence. Turn it in to the RCMP or the Conservation Officers.

It's a small effort to make on your part.

Plus it could always end up on our site, too. If I know our commenters as well as I think I do, it seems everyone enjoys a good public shaming.

To report a polluter, contact the RCMP detachment at 250-828-3000 or call the B.C. Conservation Service Poacher and Polluter hotline at 1-877-952-7277.

To contact a reporter for this story, email, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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