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Katzie close Wharf Street in Maple Ridge
The Katzie First Nation has sealed off an unpaved road between Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows to prevent people from dumping garbage and speeding through the reserve.
Concrete blocks were put up at the end of Wharf Street in Hammond two weeks ago, blocking access into the reserve.
There have been parties, speeding vehicles and fires on the property, said band member Coleen Pierre.
“It’s uncontrollable and out of our hands.”
Someone dumped a large pile of garbage near the wall soon after it went up.
“There continue to be major issues with people using our reserve as a dumping ground and this can no longer be tolerated,” said Katzie First Nation chief Susan Miller.
“We did go through the garbage and found bills and mail addressed to Maple Ridge residents.”
People are also using the secluded site near the Golden Ears Bridge to burn toxic material. Last summer, a man sparked brush fire while trying to siphon gas from a car.
Previously used as a landfill, the property is a popular dumping ground for everything from stolen vehicles to furniture and building material.
The dirt road is also used as a short cut between the two municipalities. The Katzie temporarily closed the road in 2009.
“Katzie leadership are working with the community to stop this,” Miller said, adding the concrete barrier will remain in place permanently.
Pitt Meadows fire chief Don Jolley said the closure will not affect emergency response to the Katzie First Nation as the fire department uses main roads to access the reserve.
The District of Maple Ridge was not told about the closure but intends to install a sign to warn motorists before they drive into a concrete wall.
Hammond residents would like the closure addressed by the district which is currently working on an area plan to guide development in the historic neighbourhood.
On the Facebook group Hammond Neighbours, residents wondered how they would leave the area if a train was stuck on the tracks.
“The garbage dumping on the Katzie land has been atrocious to say the least, and I don’t blame them for blocking it off,” wrote Charlotte Mitchell.
“Nevertheless, there is no other egress in the event of a train disaster or stall along Lorne and Ditton … maybe this needs to be addressed within the area plan.”
Maple Ridge director of engineering operations Russ Carmichael said a typical large single location cleanup costs between $300 to $500 when a back hoe and truck are required. The costs include picking up garbage, hauling and tipping fees.
A small cleanup that fits in a pickup truck costs around $100.