A man who took it upon himself to clean up garbage on a dirt road in Thornhill notorious for illegal dumping is calling for it to be blocked off from vehicle use.
Rob Seaton did three runs to the landfill recently with a large trailer filled with household garbage collected along the old Canadian Cellulose haul road known as Sharples, that stretches from Hwy16 back to Crescent St. and the Pacific Northern Gas (PNG) line.
“There was rotten meat, hypodermic needles, furniture,” said Seaton of the unpleasant stuff he hauled, adding that people have also been dumping garbage along the PNG road as well as behind the Thornhill community hall and fair grounds.
A local resident of 55 years, Seaton decided to pitch in to solve what he said is the worst garbage problem he’s seen in his day.
The litter he helped clean up was strewn across a stretch of provincial crown land that two companies are vying to buy in order to develop subdivisions. Residents currently use the land for outdoor recreation.
An unsightly mess on the treed road that borders this land, Seaton took it upon himself to rectify the situation by bringing in equipment he uses for his parks maintenance business, Northwest Escapes Ltd.
However just one week after his volunteer garbage hauling, the refuse returned and he is exasperated.
“From my perspective, the pipeline and Sharples needs to be blocked off using road blocks and people need to stop dumping in general,” said Seaton.
Punishing litterers is generally overseen by conservation officers employed by the Ministry of Environment, but that they have other priorities in an area so full of outdoor activity.
“The conservation officers are busy finding people using barbed hooks,” said Seaton.
According to Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine planner Ken Newman, when it comes to littering problems on crown land such as Sharples Rd., it’s up to the province to deal with the situation.
“When it comes to crown land the regional district has no jurisdiction,” said Newman. “That is to say we don’t have any regulations that allow us to do anything about it. It is the Ministry of Forest, Lands and Natural Resource Operations with the Ministry of Environment and the Conservation Officer’s Service [that] have jurisdiction.”
Seaton said he has considered bringing receipts and identification that he pulled from the dumped refuse to the police, but isn’t sure if or how the police would respond.
Aside from blocking Sharples and the PNG road to vehicles, Seaton has some hope for regional district recycling plans which he thinks might encourage people to stop throwing trhings away.
One of the long-term goals of the regional district is to convert the Thornhill landfill into a depot where refuse, bottles, batteries, appliances and other items can be taken in one shot.
Though Seaton believes littering is a result of poor planning, he does like the regional district’s idea and that in the end “it’s a people issue. People need educated more responsible about cleaning up their garbage.”