Volunteers stand behind a pile of material removed from an abandoned homeless camp site adjacent to Piercy Creek. Photo supplied

Volunteers clean up mess left at abandoned Courtenay homeless camp

Millard-Piercy Watershed Stewards step up after garbage was found at an abandoned campsite

Robin Harrison Special to The Record

Lack of suitable low-cost housing is forcing increasing numbers of people to set up camps in parks and on vacant private land.

Unfortunately, when these people move on, they often leave behind a mess of garbage and assorted items such as clothing, sleeping bags, tents and even mattresses. The municipalities and landowners are then responsible for the effort and cost of removing the garbage.

Such a situation occurred adjacent to Piercy Creek in south Courtenay where an exceptionally large area of garbage was found at an abandoned campsite. As some of the garbage had fallen into the creek and there was concern about possible leaching of toxic substances, a decision was made to clean up the site.

A work party of volunteers from Millard-Piercy Watershed Stewards removed about half the garbage late last year with the City of Courtenay loaning tools and organizing a large dumpster to transfer the material to the landfill.

On March 30, 2019, another work party of 18 people including volunteers from Millard-Piercy Watershed Stewards, Morrison Creek Stream Keepers, Comox Valley Nature and Comox Valley Land Trust, cleaned up the remaining garbage with the City again lending tools and arranging for a dumpster.

Several other nearby abandoned campsites strewn with garbage are far enough back from the creek that they don’t pose an immediate threat.

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