CALLS GO OUT TO PROTECT TRAILS FROM MOTORIZED VEHICLES, GARBAGE

By on April 13, 2010
From left: John Josay and Fred Mazereeuw, owners of Osoyoos’s Yardworks Landscaping, and Isla Petreny-Mackenzie clean up trash at a site off the irrigation canal trail.  Photo by Paul Everest - Click on picture for larger image

From left: John Josay and Fred Mazereeuw, owners of Osoyoos’s Yardworks Landscaping, and Isla Petreny-Mackenzie clean up trash at a site off the irrigation canal trail. Photo by Paul Everest - Click on picture for larger image

OSOYOOS TIMES-April 14, 2010

By Paul Everest – Osoyoos Times

Several members of the community are raising concerns about damage being caused to Osoyoos’s trail network from people using motor vehicles or dumping garbage.
Mayor Stu Wells said he’s upset that someone using a motorbike has already “ripped up” a section of recently completed trail which connects the Osoyoos Visitor Information Centre to the Osoyoos Airport and the Casitas Del Sol development to the west.
In February, a tender for building the 1.5-kilometre stretch of trail was awarded to Osoyoos’s Yardworks Landscaping after the company entered a bid of $75,120 for the project.
The total budget for this stretch of trail was $100,000 and a $20,000 grant from the National Trails Coalition, Town money and Resort Municipality funding were used to build it.
It was completed in the past two weeks, but already a long gash has defaced the gravel pathway, right in front of a sign that indicates that motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
Wells said it’s difficult to keep the trails in good shape due to erosion and having people use unauthorized vehicles on the pathways doesn’t help.
He added that one of the offenders has been identified.
Cpl. Jason Bayda, a spokesman for the Osoyoos RCMP, said police did receive a complaint of dirt bikes on the canal trail on March 30.
“We were advised the riders were already spoken to but we were not provided names,” he said in email. “I have received information from the Town as to where one of the persons may reside however we still need to look into this further with the Town to see if it is anything we can enforce.”
Wells said Osoyoos town council is going to look at making it possible for bylaw officers to ticket anyone who rides motorized vehicles on the trail, adding that other, recently renovated trails around the area have also been damaged.
If people want to use the trail network to get their vehicles to the surrounding hills, they are welcome, he said.
But the vehicles should not be ridden on the trails as they disturb people who are walking and cycling and damage the trail’s surface.
“Just use it with an ounce of brains and consideration,” Wells said.
While Wells’ concerns focused on trails being shredded by unauthorized motor vehicles, Isla Petreny-Mackenzie is spearheading an effort to deal with trash being dumped on and along Osoyoos’s trails.
On April 9, Petreny-Mackenzie, along with Fred Mazereeuw and John Josay from Yardworks, went out to an area just north of where the irrigation canal trail runs under Hwy. 3 to clean up a dumping area.
Around an area where a natural spring bubbles up from the earth could be found everything from clothing to tents to books to lighter fuel canisters to stolen furniture.
The trio used rakes and their bare hands to haul the trash out of a creek bed and onto a truck.
Petreny-Mackenzie said they were able to fill the bed of the Yardworks pickup truck for two runs to the Osoyoos Landfill and she also made a trip after filling up the back of her station wagon.
Who is to blame for the trash is not the issue, Petreny-Mackenzie said.
But it’s up to the community to make an effort to clean it up to help the natural environment which is being choked by litter and discarded camping equipment.
“It’s too easy to walk by and pretend it’s not there,” she said. “Nature is not able to thrive when it’s covered with plastic or rotting tents.”
Petreny-Mackenzie said it was during one of her regular strolls along the trail that she came up with the idea for the cleanup.
She knew that location was used as a dump and wanted to do something to get the trash out of there.
So, on April 6, she approached Yardworks to help out with the cleanup since the company has experience with Osoyoos’s trail network.
Yardworks joined Petreny-Mackenzie’s effort without charging for the labour.
“We agreed because Isla made good points about everyone pitching in,” Mazereeuw said.
Petreny-Mackenzie has also brought up her concerns to the Town of Osoyoos about landowners with properties bordering the trail using the irrigation canal as a dumping ground.
She is proposing the formation of a “Garbage Guzzlers” team who go into areas that have been dumped in and tidy them up.
Anyone who wants to join her is invited to contact Petreny-Mackenzie at isla@persona.ca.
Or, she said, people should just bring a backpack when they go out for a hike and pick up trash as they go along.
As for preventing the trash problem in the first place, Petreny-Mackenzie suggested a partnership between the Town of Osoyoos, the Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen, Destination Osoyoos and local orchardists to create a “drug-free” camp where migrating agricultural workers can stay while in Osoyoos.
That way, she said, they won’t have to rely on camping near trails or in the Strawberry Creek area which end up getting trashed.
Wells has expressed a similar idea and suggested such a camp have showers.
Petreny-Mackenzie and Wells also invite the community to take part in Pitch In Week activities around Osoyoos.
Pitch In Week runs from April 19 to 25.
news@osoyoostimes.com

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One Comment

  1. James Barber

    April 14, 2010 at 7:38 am

    Just go up to Mt Baldy after the ski season closes to see the the devastation the snowmobilers leave by and past the “NO!” snowmobiling signs. Fine the people for trespassing lie they did at Sovereign Lakes earlier this year

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