The District of Sooke’s chief administrative officer Norm McInnis joined a group of 35 volunteers during a recent clean up effort that succeeded in making a considerable dent in the accumulated garbage and debris at Broomhill Park.
Next time, he’ll wear rubber boots.
“The smart people came with rubber boots,” McInnis said, chuckling.
“It gets very wet and muddy down by the creek. I’ll know better next time.”
The community clean up was organized in conjunction with the District of Sooke by the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society, and by the time the work was done, they had removed more than 500 pounds of accumulated debris from the picturesque park, located at 2280 Pyrite Drive.
“The good news is that many of the items we’re finding and removing are not reflective of current practices, but are really a hangover from the past when people would just dump things without much concern for the environment,” Laura Hooper, the district’s manager of parks and environmental services.
She recounted finding a van seat during a previous clean up that had been there so long that the roots of a Douglas-fir had grown through the seat.
“That had obviously been there for a very, very long time.”
But Hooper said some of the garbage removed from parks like Broomhill has more recent origins.
“We get bear waste. That’s the bags of improperly secured garbage that bears will take and drag off into the woods to eat where they won’t be disturbed,” Hooper said.
“We also get a lot of yard waste and some other items being dumped in the woods by residents.”
The dumping of that last category of waste may be addressed, McInnis said, when the municipality makes solid waste home pick up mandatory next year.
“Old habits are hard to change, but the solid waste collection will be key (to starting that process),” he said.
Remediation of past dumping, changing current habits and generally cleaning up the parks is worth the effort, said Jessica Boquist, Sooke’s lead hand for parks operations and an proponent of the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society.
“First of all, this is such a beautiful jewel of a park here in this community – much bigger than a lot of people realize. We’re looking at having it incorporated into the system of community trails. The Stickleback Trail will connect the Galloping Goose Trail at Kirby Road all the way to Broomhill,” Boquist said.
Touring the park, Boquist stopped to point out some of the invasive species that need to be removed from the park.
“That’s English ivy. Norm knows all about that. He was helping to pull some of it out during the clean up. It’s the stuff they use for Christmas decorations, but it will outcompete native plants and has to be taken out,” Boquist said.
During the Nov. 16 cleanup, more than eight cubic yards of invasive plants were also removed from the park.
More information on the activities of the Juan de Fuca Community Trails Society as well as announcements of future clean ups can be found at the Trails Society website.