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‘It’s unbelievable’: Huge mess left behind in backcountry near Big White Ski Resort

The mess left behind by squatters on the side of Big White Road between the ski reort and Highway 33. Global News

A small group of volunteers spent Wednesday in the backcountry cleaning up a huge mess left behind by squatters.

“Disgusting mess,” said cleanup volunteer Val Bulloch.

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Bullock is a year-round resident at the Big White Ski Resort and has been driving past the mess regularly for months.

“I don’t understand how, you know, even if you choose to live in the rough, why you can’t take care of your garbage,” Bullock told Global News. “It’s just so unbelievable to me. I don’t understand.”

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The squatter camp is located just several metres off of Big White Road between the ski hill and Highway 33, southeast of Kelowna.

It’s believed to have been abandoned last November but volunteers had to wait until the snow melted to get the cleanup going.

“There’s vehicles here, there’s travel trailers, there’s drug paraphernalia, there’s personal belongings,” said Kane Blake, president of the not-for-profit group Okanagan Forest Task Force.

Blake has cleaned up many similar sites since starting the group in August, 2016.

Click to play video: 'This Is BC: Okanagan man volunteers to pick up after others in B.C. backcountry'
This Is BC: Okanagan man volunteers to pick up after others in B.C. backcountry

He’s an outdoor enthusiast who became profoundly concerned over the growing epidemic of illegal dumping in forests, recreational areas and along natural waterways.

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“We have one backcountry, and this is what it’s slowly becoming. Our licence plates say ‘beautiful British Columbia,’ but you tell me if that’s beautiful,” Blake said, pointing to the massive pile of garbage and other remnants of a camp.

Blake said it’s something that he’s seeing a lot more of — especially since the onset of the pandemic.

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“There’s definitely been a spike,” he said. “I’m not going to say homeless camps, but people trying to make the best of it in the backcountry. I don’t like using the word homeless but you know, I don’t even know what to say. It’s a growing situation.”

Blake said a better job has to be done to enforce the Crown land camping limit of 14 days to prevent this kind of backcountry polluting.

“We need people in the higher positions that can deal with this, to start dealing with it, so that it doesn’t turn into what you’re seeing behind me here,” he said.

Several licence plates were discovered at the camp off of Big White Road.

They will be passed over to the RCMP in an effort to follow up with those who may have been responsible.

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Blake encouraged everyone who discovers illegal dump sites or squatter camps in the backcountry to report it to police, conservation or online on the Okanagan Forest Task Force website.

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The huge cost of illegal dumping

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