Details are scarce surrounding the legal reasoning for removing campers setup on the riverbed just outside the Keremeos boundary last week.
The Review was told, on the scene on Wednesday, by a Natural Resource officer that an eviction notice was provided to those camping on the riverbed.
The natural resource officers, who work under the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, returned Wednesday along with members of the Keremeos RCMP detachment to force the campers to leave the riverbed.
Those campers that were not on site at the time returned to find tents tipped over.
Members of the RCMP detachment explained they were only there to keep the peace as natural resource officers enforced the eviction from the riverbed.
The supervising Natural Resource officer declined to comment on the issue on Wednesday when approached by the Review, instead saying he would email a statement outlining the steps officers took this year.
Although the Review asked repeatedly for the statement it was not provided by deadline.
What was provided by a provincial spokesperson was a reference to the regulation used to evict the campers.
The spokesperson pointed to Trespass on Crown Land, section 59 of the Land Act.
The section allows officers to stop a person’s use of Crown Land under certain circumstances including occupying or possessing or using Crown land without lawful authority.
It’s unclear what lawful authority means.
The section also outlines that the natural resource officer must provide notice including time and place and other details of unauthorized occupation or possession as well as a list of other information.
It’s unclear at this time if notices were provided to the campers and what they stated.
Another section of the Act under section 67 states that a person must not throw, deposit, dump or in any way cause to be placed on Crown Land any glass, metal, garbage, soil or other substance without the authority of the minister.
The RCMP has the ability to arrest people if they witness the offence.
A large amount of garbage, including a dumpster that is overflowing and many other items 20 feet from the dumpster, have accumulated near the camping area over the summer months. Abandoned tents, coolers, garbage is also littered throughout the riverbed.
A camper who was packing and moving out Wednesday afternoon said he’d only stayed a short time on the riverbed and didn’t think he’d caused any harm.
He was hoping to camp on a friend’s property if possible.
He did not say whether or not he received notice that he had to leave.
The Review will update this story as more information is received by the Ministry.