Mark Miller enjoys his daily walks with his dog around Horseman’s Park in Maple Ridge.
Miller and his four-year-old Jack Russell Chihuahua cross, Milo, a rescue from California, enjoy walking the loop at the park. It is peaceful and Milo loves to walk into the river and get a nice cold drink of water.
However, Thursday afternoon, Aug. 6, Miller was disgusted when he arrived at the park and discovered a pile of discarded flip flops.
“It was probably about 15 to 20 pairs of flip flops,” he said, left right at the bridge where people get out of the water from their rafting trips along the Alouette River.
“People constantly leave garbage there,” said Miller.
He compared the pile of flip flops to the garbage recently discovered by a B.C. woman at Harrison Hot Springs after a group of partiers left behind empty beer cans and chip bags, tarps, camping chairs and a beer pong table.
“Lets have a little bit more pride with our neighbourhood,” said Miller.
Sophie Sparrow with the Alouette River Management Society is frustrated by the amount of garbage tubers leave behind on a daily basis.
“This is an ongoing issue that we face each year,” said Sparrow, adding the message of “pack out what you pack in” is not getting though to some tubers.
ARMS and Adopt-a-Block volunteers help clean the Alouette River, noted Sparrow, but with the onset of COVID-19, more people are using the river for recreation.
“Most people are respectful on the river but for those who are not it is ruining it for others,” she said.
Garbage is constantly flowing down the Alouette, added Sparrow, with home owners having to pull out passing trash into their backyards.
“We have hit a brick wall,” said Sparrow adding that constantly picking up trash is only a “Band-Aid solution.”
“We need the municipality to step in,” she said.
Horseman’s Park, just north of Abernethy Way and 224 Street, is best known for its horse trails.
Miller said the city has put a portable toilet in the park along with a second garbage can. But people still discard their broken inflatable rafts at either the side of the trail.
If Miller had brought a garbage bag he would have cleaned up the mess himself, he said. He tried calling the city for help but didn’t hear back. For his walk the following day he did bring a bag to pick up the mess, but the mess had already been cleaned up.
Miller is hoping that by bringing attention to the garbage, more people will strive to keep parks clean to make them safe and enjoyable for everybody.
If people find garbage, Sparrow asks that they pull it out of the river and dispose of it in one of the park garbage bins.
However, if the item is too large to pull out of the river, residents can phone Adopt-a-Block at 604-463-9699 with a picture and location of where the garbage is.
“We have to come together as a community to protect our heritage river.”