In honour of Mother’s Day weekend, more than 70 people gave back to Mother Earth by assisting with a community cleanup of illegal dumpings across Peachland’s watershed area Saturday (May 8).
The event, organized by Okanagan Forestry Task Force (OFTF) and the Peachland Watershed Protection Alliance (PWPA), saw Peachland residents volunteer six hours of their time to pick up garbage that was illegally dumped across the watershed, which spans 400 sq. km.
With the area serving as the source for the community’s water and as a site for recreational activities, Taryn Skalbania, the co-founder and director of outreach for PWPA, said it’s important for people to respect the land.
“It seems that we have a very finite space on this Earth. But we’re creating an infinite amount of things that are just disposable and people are just abandoning them,” said Skalbania. “There’s just not a lot of respect for Mother Nature, the wildlife and the animals.”
This was the watershed’s first of two cleanups of the year. Throughout the day, volunteers picked up discarded items that included everything from shotgun shells, furniture, BBQs, TVs, car parts and tires, and even the remains of an animal.
“One, it’s unsightly. But two, it’s dangerous. We found 40-gallon drums here, oil change abandoned, metal,” said Skalbania. “Every weekend, we call them the weekend warriors, they come here and use it as an illegal target site.”
Virginia Schmidt, a cleanup volunteer and the secretary of the PWPA, said she was heartbroken and devastated by all the garbage she picked up.
“It’s not OK. People like us can clean up, clean up and keep cleaning up. But people don’t have respect and we have no one to monitor that,” said Schmidt. “I’m pretty shocked. I’ve done the cleanup before, but it didn’t seem that bad last time.”
Peachland resident and volunteer Lloyd Stinson Sotas said he was happy to see the community turnout, but was not at all pleased with the garbage he picked up.
“This is my home. It’s home and nature,” said Sotas. “Those people really oughta be ashamed of themselves.”
Similarly, Peachland resident and volunteer Maggie Lovelock said people need to realize that they’re polluting their own backyard.
“Would you do this to your own backyard? Why do this to everyone else’s backyard?” she said.
According to Skalbania, there are plans to place cameras and signs around the area, cautioning visitors to respect what the land has to offer.
“Just nice, polite, reminding signs that this is your community drinking water. This is a community watershed. Treat it with respect,” she said. “Not just for your humans, but for the animals, the wildlife, all the users of the watershed.”