Burke Mountain litter at all-time high

Coquitlam’s land development has caused an increase in litter from incoming residents

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By Catherine Mwitta 

Development in Burke Mountain has caused an increase in litter — particularly dog poop.

Kathy Bjarnason lived in Burke Mountain in 2013 for four years before moving to Burquitlam in 2017. Even though she lives by the Lougheed Town Centre area, she still visits Burke Mountain parks regularly.

“I do find in certain areas because there’s such a mass amount of construction now, I noticed a lot of people moving into the area have animals which is great, but you know, a lot of … [those] people don’t pick up after themselves,” Bjarnason said.

Coquitlam’s 30-year development plan in Burke Mountain

In 2017, Coquitlam released its Northwest Burke Vision plan, a 30-year plan detailing the future land development of Burke Mountain. One of Coquitlam’s bigger projects in its Northwest Burke Vision plan is to build Burke Mountain Village. The village will have 2,000 apartments and townhouses, additional schools built, parks, a plaza, a community centre and few commercial buildings. In September 2020, the development of Burke Mountain Village commenced with the construction of Burke Mountain Discovery Centre and café at David Avenue and Princeton Avenue.

“I think we just need to consider everybody around us. Before you keep building and building and building … there has to be … people being personally responsible for their own mess,” Bjarnason said.

Shellie Harris, a former Coquitlam resident who now lives in Port Coquitlam, said that when she visits Burke Mountain trails and gun ranges she’s “noticed that either there’s no attempt at all to clean up dog waste, they … [dog owners] put it in the bag and then leave it on the ground, or drop it at the garbage can.”

Both Bjarnason and Harris said that the installation of more garbage cans or pedestrian signages in Burke Mountain could help promote cleanliness in the area.

“Signage would be good. Fining would be good,” Harris said. “Of course you’re going to clean up after your dog if you have bylaws staring at you.”

Waste management is a tricky business to handle

Kathleen Reinheimer, manager of parks and facilities at the City of Coquitlam, said when the municipality installs a garbage can in a park or a trail, “that garbage cans collect a lot of household garbage if they’re too obvious and at the edge of a trailhead.”

“So, usually what we do when people say, there’s a lot of litter in this area, we need a garbage can, we say, give us a chance to assess what’s going on there,” Reinheimer said. “So rather than putting the garbage can automatically, we send people to pick up litter and kind of judge what’s happening. Then if we need to, we add one.”

According to Reinheimer, bear-proof trash bins often cost $3,000 a piece and require constant operational maintenance. She said parks and facilities at the City of Coquitlam have found a less costly method to ensure waste management in its parks.

Coquitlam has several volunteer programs to clear litter in streets, trails and parks. One of these programs is Park Spark.

“One of our prime problems with solid waste in parks is dog waste,” Reinheimer said, “So, we have dramatically stepped up our oversight over both litter collection and the garbage can empty.”

Reinheimer said that the increase of volunteers in 2021 has been approximately up to 40 people from last year, from neighbourhood to neighbourhood in Coquitlam.

But both Bjarnason and Harris said that the issues of dog poop in Burke Mountain comes down to the “personal responsibility of the Coquitlam residents.”

“Pick up after yourself, pick up after your dog. If there isn’t a garbage can, hold it till you find a garbage can, it’s a no-brainer,” Bjarnason said.

Litter throughout Burke Mountain parks. 

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