James Barth was back at a familiar site Monday, taking stock of the remnants of a homeless camp near Highway 19 and Cook Creek Road.
“About three years ago, I was chased out of here by an individual that came up to threaten me with an axe handle or something,” said Barth. “That person followed me out and then down the highway.”
The site in the Comox Valley includes several camping trailers and piles of garbage and personal belongings strewn about. Barth also found a knife blade taped to the end of a long pole.
“I tell people don’t come up here. It’s not safe,” he added.
Barth says he is not against the unhoused in any way but would like to be a part of cleaning up the site now that it appears to have been abandoned.
He and his group Stop Comox Valley-Strathcona Illegal Dumping have cleaned up hundreds of sites, but not as bad as this.
“There are fifth wheelers up here that there is no way for us to get it out of here as volunteers. We just want this area to turn back into what we had before, just a nice place to visit,” Barth said.
The problem is, he says his appeals to the government have been received with little urgency.
“Depending on the government level, they’ve told me it’s not a priority, it’s not their problem,” he told CHEK News.
Adding insult to injury is that he already cleaned up this same spot about six years ago when it was used for illegal dumping.
“I feel heartbroken, angry, frustrated,” Barth added.
The site is along the edge of a BC Hydro right of way, and a BC Hydro spokesperson told CHEK News Monday it has no jurisdiction on the land under which its lines travel.
CHEK News reached out to the province to see if it’s aware of the site and what might be done and was told a response could come Tuesday.