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Message to City: 'This is Unacceptable'

Teen's video implores community to clean up foreshore
By Mike Youds
August 17, 2016 2:31 P.M.
Ken Leblanc, camera in hand, shows some of the waste strewn off Schubert Drive.

The beach is sandy, broad and beautiful, the Rivers Trail above a popular scenic stroll along Schubert Drive at this time of year. 

In contrast, the North Thompson River foreshore that lies between them is a disgusting mess and needs to be cleaned up, said Ken Leblanc. The neighbourhood teen was so disgusted by the worsening mess that he’s posted a YouTube video Tuesday as a message to the City of Kamloops.

The title of his video: “This is Unacceptable.”

Leblanc, 17, remembers going to the beach as a child when the area was safe and relatively clean. It’s now a neglected a wasteland of garbage, camp debris, discarded stolen goods and drug paraphernalia. 

The wooded foreshore is braided with unmarked foot trails used to get down to the beach.

“It’s been like this for a year,” he said. “It’s just getting progressively worse. It’s a public area, and the fact that people have to walk through this?”

On a brief visit Wednesday, the NorKam Grade 12 student and his mother, Deann Scheelar, drove home the point.

“I used to bring him down here all the time and it was clean,” Scheelar said. Leblanc likes to create content that he can post on the web. His neighbourhood beach happens to be his latest focus.

“I really enjoy creating content,” he said. “It’s my hobby and my passion. It’s what I want to do for a career. I thought this was a good idea for the public eye.”

He didn’t intend his video commentary to be a criticism of homeless people who stay in the area, but feels that the City and the community need to show some responsibility for the problem.

“Keeping a city like this, it’s unacceptable.”

He thinks at least part of the problem could be addressed if garbage cans or biohazard receptacles were located in the area.

Jesse Frenchy was taking his kids to the beach and agreed that the area is a mess.

“I think it should be cleaned,” he said. “The City should pay attention to this,” he added, noting overgrown weeds along the Rivers Trail.

Leblanc said, if the City can't do it, he would like to get involved in a community effort to clean up the area.

The City will respond to specific complaints but can't continually patrol areas, said David Duckworth, City director of community safety.

"We do our best, but we do it on a complaint basis," Duckworth said.

The City works pro-actively with social agencies to assist people who want to move into housing and engage in support services, he noted.

Contrary to some of Leblanc's remarks on video, homeless people are allowed to camp in the area between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., but must dismantle their camps during the day.

"It's worse than years past," Duckworth acknowledged, citing increased homelessness in cities around the province. "We're not the only community that's face with this."

There are people who voluntarily clean up such areas, but it's not an initiative he recommends.

"I would not encourage it. We'd rather have someone there who's trained with the proper equipment."


Jeff says:
August 19, 2016 03:18am

I have been going to the beaches on the North Thompson and the Henry Grube / overlander beach for years to skimboard and I have never seen it so bad... As it becomes more popular and crowded it has brought a huge mess.... The last time I went skim boarding with my kids I found condoms both on the beach and the parking lot... Broken glass... Needles... And tons of other random garbage.... It's quite obvious that this area is getting more and more traffic every year and the city needs to take some initiative to clean it up... They take care of the beaches at Riverside and Pioneer and they already maintain the volleyball courts above the beach... It would not take much to at least help make the situation better.... Start by putting some garbage cans down at the beach level so people don't just leave stuff laying their because they don't want to carry it up the hill. Assign someone to do 1hr of clean up daily or a couple hours every week.... It not absurd... Absurd is allowing a beautiful city and it's key places get polluted... They don't need to patrol all parts of the city all the time... These are key areas that experience a lot of traffic and they city is already maintaining the areas just above the beach they just need to extend their areas slightly. I sure hope we can take advantage of this opportunity to salvage our assets before they become liabilities.


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Marcia Dick says:
August 18, 2016 06:32pm

Kamloops is a MASSIVE city with trails all over the place. I don't see how anyone could even remotely expect that the city be patrolling all parts of the city on a regular basis. Can you imagine how much it would cost to employ city workers to pick up trash throughout the entire city every day?! Absurd.


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Beverley says:
August 17, 2016 08:19pm

My first thought, on seeing campers and homeless camps is "where do they go to the bathroom", we all know the answer to that and its time to do something about it. I find it really shocking that the City of Kamloops responds on a complaint basis, taking no pride whatsoever in our beautiful surroundings, which we should be so proud of.


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Cecile says:
August 17, 2016 04:11pm

I have to agree. We have found the areas in front of our home on Schubert Drive to be considerably worse this year. It isn't homeless peoplet that are leaving the trash here. It us large groups of teens openly doing drugs and large groups of alcoholics - who may or may not be homeless. Those using the area as housing are further down in the more heavily wooded areas.
It begs the question of increased support for drug users. Perhaps Kamloops needs safe drug use sites? I'm betting that local social services are struggling with the increase in homelessness this year and the provincoal government just keeps downloading problems and removing funding.


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