The Unofficial Vernon City Dump(s)

While we’re all limiting contact with other humans because contact can kill us, it’s a fine time to consider what other poisonous contact we are having.  For example:

On What Planet is it OK to Wash Concrete Out of a Truck?

Let me rephrase that: on what kind of a planet is a truck built to replace human labour more valuable than life itself?

The stuff that humans do to the Earth in the Okanagan Valley graphically represents the replacement of human-earth social relationships with a built environment based on human social hierarchies constructed on a foundation of status and desire within tattooed markings on bodily space. Yes, tattoos. Here’s the body and a few of the social tattoos engraved into it.

And here’s the cleverest tattoo of all. I’ve mentioned it before, but it is growing splendidly. This is the mouth of Lower BX Creek, a major tributary of Okanagan Lake. Ten years ago, that sandbar ended at the last willow tree, approximately in the centre of the image. Looks at it now.

All of this sand is not coming from Forestry clear-cutting or agricultural run-off or any of the usual culprits. It is coming from a gravel pit like the one below …

… with its pile of foam and concrete …

… which is spread on the roads on the winter, to make driving safer on the ice. When the ice and snow build up, it is scraped away and placed beside the stream, at the north and south ends of town. When the snow melts, the sand is washed into the creek, which carries it into the lake. Look at the kayakers maintaining social distance in the flow at the right below.

Now, here’s the funny thing. Apart from the fact that the Ministry of Environment would never allow anyone to dump sand into the lake like this, and apart from the fact that the beach is choked with weeds, which the city has been fighting for permission to till into the lakebed, and apart from the fact that the city has been repeatedly denied permission because of endangered freshwater clams in the shallow water, which makes the tourism industry mad, and apart from the fact that I was mocked in the letters to the editor of the Vernon Morning Star for suggesting we give the beach to the geese, because they’re fun …

… beach to the right of the creek mouth is the Priest Valley Indian Reserve shore. Note the trailer park and campground that provides it with income now.

Originally, reserves like this were set aside to provide fishing and hunting opportunities. In this case, salmon, Kokanee, clams, ducks and geese, and whatever else once lived here. The wetland just upstream was filled in for an airfield during the Second World War. It was extended into a soccer field and tennis courts. Now the lake is being filled in. Soon all the Band will have is sand. It is precisely the same as using Indigenous land as a dump.


2 replies »

  1. Thanks for this bit of history and the ignorant ruination of the precious lake. Having salty sand washed into the lake cannot be harmless to the beings that live there.


    • Very true. In Vernon, though, environmental regulations are considered sport. But it was the same in the 1890s, when regulations for sharing land with the Okanagan Indian Band were cleverly annulled, because a native farm was denied access to range across other men’s lands while white farms were given free passage. What disturbs me is how nothing has changed and how openly it is still done. The beings in the lake are in great trouble. And I didn’t even mention that the lake is now being used as a reservoir for water flushed through the Vernon sewage system.



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