It is distressing that there are still people who feel they are entitled to dump their garbage in the wilderness. On the other hand, it is encouraging to find citizens who are willing to clean it up.
Last week, Tyler Huzar was checking out a Summerland Facebook page, called Locals Helping Locals. Someone had posted a picture of a pile of garbage that had been freshly dumped in the bush.
Huzar found out that the dump site was in an area that he often visited. Since he had the day off, he decided to enlist the help of his buddy, Brayden Cathcart and the two of them headed out to clean up the mess.
“So we came out and there was this large pile of garbage. We looked at each other and we stared at it for probably ten minutes before we decided what we were going to do,” explained Huzar. “I got in the back of my truck and dug out all the bags that I had and anything we could use to carry the garbage and we just got to work.”
The garbage consisted of “gross household stuff” and the bags that contained food had been ripped open, presumably by animals. According to Huzar and Cathcart there was PVC piping, broken irrigation equipment, plastic garden pots, broken solar lights, roofing and ceiling tiles.
The two friends took one whole pickup load to the landfill and payed the dumping fee of $6.50.
They left behind items that they considered “somewhat biodegradable,” with the intention of returning to clean it up another day.
One might look at the broader issue of the damage this garbage may have caused to the environment or the water supply, considering it was very close to Trout Creek. However, the motivation for these young men to clean up someone else’s mess was based on something much more basic.
“It’s a spot that we come to all the time,” said Cathcart. “It’s as simple as that. I like coming out here. If someone else comes out here and trashes the place, it’s going to create a situation where we can no longer use this space, so the big drive for me was because I don’t want to lose this spot.”
Huzar said he spends most of his days off recreating in the area as well.
“It’s not too much of a loss to take one of those days off, or more, to clean up the area that I like to hang out at,” he said.
The young men believe that whoever dumped the garbage are not the people who regularly frequent the area, to walk their dogs, or to enjoy a cold drink and sit by the creek on a hot summer day.
“It was somebody who didn’t want to go to the dump, so they drove past the dump fifteen minutes and dumped it here,” said Huzar.
Considering this event happened so close to Earth Week in Summerland, one might wonder what it will take to change people’s behaviours. It is not possible for folks to plead ignorance after so much education on the need to protect the environment.
“I think it’s a maturity thing,” said Huzar. “You either understand that this is our environment and that you need to respect it, or you don’t.”
Cathcart believes it will take much more than educating people.
“As far as changing someone’s attitudes…the only thing that is really going to change that is consequences,” he said. “The people that just don’t get it, the only thing that is going to drive them not to do something like this, is the worry that they’re going to have a fine slapped on them.”
Huzar and Cathcart intend to return to the site another day to finish cleaning up the rest of the debris.
“We’ll be back,” said Huzar. We’ll be cleaning this place up as much as we need to keep it nice. That’s a priority.”
For the people who took the liberty of dumping their garbage on the land, Huzar has this message.
“We’re out here trying to enjoy the beautiful wilderness that we are blessed to have in our back yard, so don’t wreck it for the rest of us.”