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Elphinstone Chronicles: Hunting for garbage in Elphinstone

What we found on a date to remember at Trash Bash

It was a glorious day last Saturday to put on a reflective vest and venture into the wilderness of Elphinstone hunting for garbage. I attended the Sunshine Coast Regional District’s annual Backroad Trash Bash along with 50 other volunteers to discover what troves of rubbish unfold in the most unexpected places, and how creative illegal dumpers can get here right here on the Coast. Aside from the recent two year COVID-hiatus, the regional district will rotate through different sections of the Coast and this year, drum roll please, Area E and F were picked! From Elphinstone to Port Mellon, we came, we saw, we said eww, and we threw it in a truck to be hauled off. This annual outing is a great excuse to take that special someone 4x4ing in an off-road capable vehicle, and you will even be treated to lunch provided by the Gibsons Lion’s Club after you bring in your treasures. What a day out! It could be that unique Sunshine Coast wow-factor for an online dating profile, like getting gelato at Fandangos when your ferry has been canceled, or going to the Sechelt Landfill for eagle watching. 

My own date and I were met at Shirley Macey Park by an enlistment of smiling volunteers and organizers who were extremely helpful. They armed us with a segment of the map, hi-vis work vests, grabber sticks, garbage bags and gloves, and we hustled off to see how much crud we could dig out of the forest and ditches of our neighbourhoods. Spoiler alert: It was a lot. While this isn’t a community clean-up per se, and Capilano Highways deals with keeping our main roads tidy, the Backroad Trash Bash sets its sights on illegal dump spots. Dumping waste such as garbage, hazardous waste and even green waste is illegal, so people really outdo themselves to be sneaky about it. That is probably because the fine for illegal dumping can be up to one million dollars. If that fails to curb your jettison of junk, you could also receive six months in jail, where you may be forced to do your own sad Trash Bash in an orange jumper without your friends, without an incredible free lunch, and worse, nothing but shame to add to your dating profile. Why take that risk? 

It was a great way to explore neighbourhoods, but it was also a bummer to find a striking amount of disposable masks this year. Seven former campsites with piles of garbage left behind were cleaned up; There were mattresses in ditches, endless empties, and broken furniture brought back. Bag after bag added up. Coast Bin Rentals, Salish Soils, Gibsons Recycling Depot and AJM Disposals were so gracious to help with the hauling and disposal, filling four of the huge 20-yard bins for collection. My sister asked what the strangest thing I found was. The answer, which you cannot unsee now that you have read it, is a confounding quantity of underwear. 

Next year’s Backyard Trash Bash will be coming to clean Area A in Pender Harbour, but you can help anytime. The SCRD has several channels to focus on stopping illegal dumping. One of these channels is the Good Samaritan Program, which will pay the landfill disposal fees for materials collected from illegal dump sites cleaned up by volunteers. Pre-approval is required to have the disposal fees of a clean-up funded by Good Samaritan, so if you have found a dump site and would like to clean it up, contact the SCRD in advance at 604-885-6806 or e-mail [email protected]

I would love to hear feedback, take suggestions on topics in our neighbourhood, and hear from all 3,883 residents of Elphinstone. Email me at [email protected]