This will literally blow you away

LAST YEAR, local taxpayers in Squamish dished out approximately $87,000 to clean up illegally dumped trash.

LAST YEAR, local taxpayers in Squamish dished out approximately $87,000 to clean up illegally dumped trash from run-of-the-mill garbage to an abandoned boat. The Regional District of Kitimat Stikine could not supply figures; Highways is responsible for keeping our roads and ditches clean.

Not all dumping is intentional. Some litter comes from improperly secured loads. Before furniture frame building standards deteriorated to replacing hardwood with plywood, upholstered sofas possessed the heft of a World War II tank. Unlike today, no shopper ever suffered the loss of overstuffed upholstered furniture while driving home from the store.

Last October, a relative heading home from Edmonton with an Ikea loveseat in the back of his open pickup checked his rear view mirror just in time to see the loveseat sail off, end over end, into the ditch as he drove through Sherwood Park.

His experience is not unusual as upholsterers may attest. Years ago  a Nass resident brought in for repair a new chair he had just purchased in town. On his way home, the chair blew off and crash landed in the ditch, wrenching off one arm. He never came back to pick up his repaired chair. It still serves my family some 20 years and one reupholstering later.

Transporting anything safely in an open pickup calls for planning while loading. As a former stevedore who lashed cars below decks so they couldn’t shift and capsize the merchant vessel, my husband always carried a 20 foot length of 3/8” rope and several squares of red fabric or plastic  to attach to the ends of lumber or other material sticking out beyond the tailgate.

If he loaded furniture, the rope went around behind the piece keeping it snug to the cab; neither could it slide out over an open tailgate if he started too suddenly. Then he roped it tight to the truck box floor.

Whenever he hauled garbage in plastic bags, the bags had to be deflated as much as possible before weighting them down with something heavy, or a tarp strapped securely over the load.

Foam and styrofoam are roughly 98 percent air. Mattresses, too, are a  top and bottom layer of lightweight construction material, sandwiching eight inches or so of air. Yet folks expect a mattress to stand up, unsupported, in a moving pickup.

One fine afternoon as I walked my dogs along Dobbie toward Haaland a pickup traveling west along Haaland stopped blocking the Dobbie intersection. The driver got out, walked around the back of his truck and lifted upright a double mattress that had flopped flat on to the truck box as he rounded a curve. I heard him say, “Sorry, Buddy” in a friendly tone to a German shepherd who cautiously peeked out as the mattress was raised.

To depend upon luck to keep stuff in a moving open-bed truck is foolhardy and could lead to a littering fine.

Mattresses. Foam cushions. Plastic garbage bags stuffed with styrofoam, empty plastic jugs, even newspapers or kitchen waste. All have the lift-off capability of a hang glider poised on a mountain peak awaiting a gust of wind.

I think of Farley Mowat’s book Owls in the Family. Growing up in Saskatoon during the Depression, Farley had as pets two Great Horned Owls, Wol and Weeps. On  sunny Sunday afternoons as the Mowat family tootled along potholed gravel roads with the convertible top down, Wol would crouch, clutching a fold of canvas in his talons. At every bump he fanned his wings as though about to fly.

B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act forbids dumping or leaving on a highway any litter likely to injure a person, animal or vehicle on the highway. The list includes glass, nails, tacks, wire, cans, bottles, papers, ashes, refuse, trash or rubbish. Section 204.2 levies a fine of $81 for littering.