Garbage pickup on riverbanks, including Schubert, an ongoing effort for Kamloops city hall

Schubert 'got away from us'

Garbage clean up is an ongoing effort for the City of Kamloops, with the recent litter pile-up along Schubert a situation that "just kind of got away from us," according to the city's community services manager.

Tammy Blundell said community service officers (CSOs), until recently known as bylaw officers, typically try to visit the North Shore area once every one or two weeks to make sure temporary shelters along the riverbank stay clean.

“We had a few phone calls from a few public members to say, ‘Hey, I think you guys need to come and clean this up and see what’s going on,' and that’s what we did,” she told Castanet Kamloops.

A series of photos posted to a North Shore neighbourhood Facebook group Monday showed garbage, shopping carts and other items strewn around the embankments between Schubert Drive and the beach. Residents voiced concerns about the issue, alerting the city, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the province's Conservation Officer Service hotline.

Blundell said CSOs attended the area to clean up shortly after complaints were received, adding that the department is going through an “influx” with staffing, making coverage for all Kamloops’ neighbourhoods challenging.

“There are some days we are a little bit more short staffed,” she said.

“Sometimes we have a few more staff, so when we have a few more, that’s when we try and get to these areas.”

Blundell said CSOs cover a large area, visiting neighbourhoods from the North Shore to Valleyview to make sure temporary shelters, which are currently permitted along Kamloops’ riverbanks, don’t pile up with garbage and other items.

About a year ago, she said, city council relaxed the bylaws around temporary shelters.

“Since then, we’ve been working on supporting council relaxing the bylaw,” Blundell said.

“Instead of people dismantling their temporary shelters in the morning, first thing in the morning, and putting it back up at night, if they keep it clean, we just let them stay there.”

Kevin Beeton, the city’s community services supervisor, said officers will allow people using temporary shelters to keep what they need to survive the night outdoors, like warm blankets and something to sleep on.

“We make the assessment and we work with the individual to remove excess items and garbage and debris,” he said.

Beeton said an increasingly frequent challenge for officers is dealing with items like barbecues, propane tanks, couches and dressers that have been transported to temporary shelters.

“We try and keep it to a minimum, so if you have a small structure, and a few effects, that’s what we’d like to see, but we’re just seeing more and more,” he said.

A North Shore resident who spoke with Castanet Kamloops on Wednesday about the garbage along Schubert said she was also concerned about the activity around temporary shelters damaging the environment, particularly contributing to riverbank erosion.

Blundell said this is also a concern of the city, and when there is an area of erosion identified, the city’s civic operations department would work with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans to correct the issue.

“We do have a couple staff members and supervisors that work in the nature parks and natural areas that are quite linked to DFO,” she said.

“If there was a concern, there would be definitely some communication between the departments.”

Blundell said for now, garbage cleanup is an “ongoing” effort, especially ensuring trash is gone from the riverbank before the water levels begin rising.

“We don’t want that stuff to go into the river,” she said.

“We want to mitigate that quickly.”

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