Parksville Grade 10 student Ben Klein-Beekman was appalled when he discovered a massive illegal dumpsite in a pristine wilderness area located close to the Little Qualicum Fish Hatchery near Qualicum Beach.
Described by his mother, Annelise as “a passionate environmentalist”, Ben decided that something needed to be done, and exhibiting organizational skills far beyond his 15 years, he set about pulling a team together to make this a project for Earth Day in April 2022.
Ben’s team consisted of volunteers from the Rotary Club of Parksville, the Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, students and teachers from Ballenas High School, Ben’s parents, and Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker.
Upon seeing the site for the first time, this enthusiastic group was staggered by the job ahead of them.
The amount of garbage on the site was so extensive that the clean-up effort would require three days to complete, a task spread out over April, June, and July.
Volunteers had to literally wade through the garbage to place it into huge fertilizer bags that were then picked up by Bobcat and transported to a waiting truck. The site contained everything from household waste to mattresses to furniture and, sadly, many needles.
While the volunteer labour was essential, this was a job that would not have been possible without the support of Dave Bedard & Sons Contracting and their donation of a bobcat and excavator, along with the services of a skilled operator.
Bedard & Sons is a true friend of Rotary and of the community as they have repeatedly donated equipment and services, including at the recent Little Mountain clean-up.
Over the three-day clean-up effort, 12.6 tons of garbage was taken to the Parksville Transfer Station and DBL Disposal Services, who kindly waived the dump fees as their contribution to this effort.
While Ben’s leadership was the inspiration for this clean-up and an excellent example of youth leading the way for Rotary and for our planet, it is apparent that there needs to be a shift in public mindset to deter future incidences of illegal dumping and preserve our wilderness areas.
Ben can be justifiably proud of his role in mobilizing resources to remove this blight from our landscape.
We live in one of the most beautiful communities in the world – following Ben’s example, let’s keep it that way!