Ten years after hauling out 3,600 pounds of garbage by helicopter, Rotary Club of Parksville AM members will return to the slopes of Little Mountain to do it again this spring.
Little Mountain has been a site for illegal dumping for years, everything from household garbage, appliances, furniture, shopping carts, boxes and beds get tossed from the top of the mountain. The site, popular for sightseeing and checking out the views of Parksville, is located at the end of Little Mountain Road in Errington.
Rotary Club of Parksville AM president Bill Rawlins said the group caught wind of the copious amounts of litter from member Jeff Grognet, who lives on Little Mountain. Grognet gave a presentation about the trash to Rotary board of directors who jumped on the opportunity to begin cleanup efforts.
“When I became president for Parksville AM, I had some goals, and one of the goals was to see us actually putting Rotary boots on the ground in the community,” Rawlins said. “This one is sort of a blight on our community. Little Mountain isn’t as pristine as it’s intended to be when you stand on top and look at sunsets or sunrises.”
Rawlins said there’s probably about two feet of garbage spread out on the mountain slopes and base of the cliff.
“A lot of the big stuff, the gravity just keeps taking it down the hill, so that’s going to be a challenge getting it out of there,” Rawlins said.
Cleanup began in November, when Rotary members packed up 10 large plastic bags full of garbage. After the Dec. 20 windstorm, even more work had to be done clearing fallen trees and re-working a trail to be able to access the hillsides.
Last Saturday (Jan. 26) a team of volunteers from Rotary Club of Parksville AM were back on the slopes collecting garbage.
“We got donated 12 big fertilizer bags from Springford Farm and we started filling those up so we have a bit of a start on it,” Rawlins said.
The volunteers plan to be back on the hill sometime in April or May (depending on helicopter availability) to assist the helicopter crew in airlifting the heavy garbage away.
“All of the appliances, all those are too big to go in these fertilizer bags. We will put all those into nets and yard them out with a helicopter,” Rawlins said.
The helicopter will then drop off the heavy items at the end of Bellevue Road where Rawlins and other volunteers will set up a sorting station. Once sorted, the items will be taken to the Transfer Station on Church Road.
“And then we have to figure something out to try and dissuade people who obviously don’t care about the environment…to cease to do this kind of stuff. It’s just ignorant, this type of behaviour,” Rawlins said. “The Transfer Station is five minutes away and they’re throwing stuff off the top of the mountain, it just doesn’t make any sense at all.”
Rawlins said cleanup efforts will most likely be on-going.
“You don’t want to be doing this thing every 10 years and the idea is to hopefully educate people that [dumping] is not the way to do it,” Rawlins said. “We cleaned it up once already in 2009 and we want to clean it up now in 2019 and it’s probably going to be an ongoing thing for a year or so because there’s so much of it there. I doubt that we’re going to be able to get it all out of there in one attack.”