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Illegal dumping in Enoch Cree Nation ‘getting ridiculous,’ resident steps in to clean up

Click to play video 'Illegal trash dumping in Enoch being cleaned up' Illegal trash dumping in Enoch being cleaned up
WATCH ABOVE: An Enoch Cree Nation man is cleaning up illegal dumpsites in a heavily treed area of the community directly west of Edmonton. As Sarah Komadina explains, Robert Hope aims to prevent the site from being a dumpster in the first place. – May 29, 2020

Located in Enoch Cree Nation — adjacent to the west side of Edmonton — is a heavily treed area, filled with nature and history. To this day, it’s still used by medicine pickers.

Decades ago, it was well used for gatherings like rodeos, and home to a huge swimming pool. In 2017, the World Indigenous Games were held there.

READ MORE: Public use of dumpster costs Edmonton senior more

But now, there is a problem — people are using it as an illegal dump site.  Resident Robert Hope says he has seen all kinds of items dumped there; cement blocks, shingles, old couches, water heaters, even an old refrigerator.

Some spots are so bad you can see the trash in satellite images.

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Illegal dumpsites visible from a Google Maps satellite picture. In Enoch, Alta. Global News

“There are so many trails out here, it’s so nice, but you see all the garbage… It’s just getting ridiculous,” Hope said.

“I hate it, and I’m going to do my part to clean it up.”

Hope started community clean-ups a couple of years ago and receives up to $3,000 a year through a grant from band to help with his efforts.

“I just want people to take pride in their land. Come on out, come use this place, because it is slowly getting overrun with garbage,” Hope said.

Hope’s next focus will be at the old swimming pool site.

“I want to clean up the sidewalk, get rid of all this dead fall, get rid of all the dirt around the sidewalks, so people can walk around,” he said.

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“I don’t want to touch anything the elders say, ‘Don’t’, but just clean up the sidewalk… so people can sit in the shade, have a picnic.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s endemic’: Illegal dumping in Edmonton caught on camera

Community members are invited to come out and help.

“More hands make less work,” Hope said.

Enoch Cree Nation Chief Billy Morin said this was a gathering place in the sixties, and it had that energy back then. He said he is sad and disappointed that people are using this area as dumping grounds.

“The root of the problem is on two fronts,” Morin said.

“Our neighbours — whether that be the city of Edmonton, the county of Parkland, or just anywhere in general — think it’s okay to come to First Nations land and use it for grounds of recreation, ATVing or dumping garbage.”

“The other root of the problem is our nation needing to put in effort to protect that land,” Morin said.

READ MORE: Police converge on rural Alberta home with guns drawn after illegal dumping ‘misunderstanding’

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Hope said if people start using the park it could deter others from illegal dumping.

“Spend the 20 bucks, go to the dump. Do it proper. No need to dump it off on somebody else’s land,” Hope said.

“Bring people back to the park, bring more people out here utilizing it and there will be less dumping.”