Contractors recently hauled 13 vehicles out of a 200-foot gulley beside the Mamquam Forest Service Road and there's still more to go, said Bob Cunneyworth.
“We think there are at least six more,” the Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations senior compliance enforcement specialist told The Chief last week.
The location, eight kilometres up the road, has been on the ministry's radar for a while, Cunneyworth said. At the bottom of a cliff and adjacent to the Stawamus River, years worth of garbage has piled up.
The illegal dumping was extra concerning because of its proximity to the river and the community's source of drinking water, Cunneyworth said.
“Our drinking water comes from groundwater, of which some of it possibly comes from the upper Stawamus,” he noted.
Working alongside ICBC and the local RCMP for the past week, the province has been cleaning up the site. The police are running vehicle identification numbers to try and determine the cars', trucks' and vans' owners.
“Anyone littering on Crown land can be arrested by police,” Cunneyworth said.
Once the work is done, the road will be graded and concrete posts will be set in place beside the cliff. The ministry will monitor the area for future illegal dumping, Cunneyworth said.
“[We'll] be checking our remote cameras to prevent future incidents and prosecute those responsible for violations of environmental legislation,” he noted.
Until the job is finished, officials won't know the final dollar figure for the cleanup, Cunneyworth said, adding that the money ultimately comes out of taxpayers' pockets.
Last month, the ministry sought the public's help in identifying the owner of an illegally dumped 20-foot power boat left high and dry on Crown land south of the Squamish Airport. Although some tips came in, the case has not been resolved, Cunneyworth said. At the time, the ministry estimated the bill for disposing of the craft was approximately $1,000.
The spree of illegal dumping in Squamish is troublesome, Cunneyworth said.
“This is your community and your backyard,” he said.
Anyone with information on abandoned vehicles and illegal dumping is asked to call the forest ministry's office at (604) 898-2128 or the RCMP at (604) 892-6100. Illegal dumping can also be reported to district bylaw officers at (604)-815-5067 or to local conservation officers at 1-877-952-7277.