Skip to content

Bella Coola Valley free store remains closed, CCRD considers options

Citing safety issues the free store was closed April 20
Central Coast Regional District. (Photo submitted)

The Central Coast Regional District is taking a closer look at options for the Thorsen Creek free store.

In a report to the board for its May 16 meeting, coordinator of works and services Gord Kohut said the store was closed by staff on April 20 due to staff safety issues.

Hazardous materials such as caustic substances, jerry cans of fuel, corrosive substances and sharp objects were present as well as bio-hazardous materials such as condoms, adult toys, used adult diapers, old food, lice, fleas, bed bugs, mice, bird droppings and mold were of concern.

Kohut noted there were also issues of recyclable materials and household garbage left at the store, as well as banned items such as mattresses, couches and demolition waste.

“Many of the issues noted above can be reduced or eliminated if there is a staff or volunteer presence that can assist the public in what items are suitable for deposit at the free store,” Kohut stated.

He cited an example of the Cowichan Valley Regional District where three free stores operating before COVID have not re-opened due to the need for additional resources.

During the meeting John Manson, CCRD manager of strategic initiatives said staff plans to report back to the board in the future with more about the free store as it is something staff wants to take a good look at.

“I think the good news is that most of the people are realizing running a free store isn’t free,” he said. “It takes effort to run them and that means cost.”

He said successful ones have relied on a volunteer organization outside of the community to provide the service.

In April the CCRD received a letter from local resident Lorie Pulliam offering some feedback.

Pullman said she volunteered at the free store for three months in 2023 helping to organize items and keep the area safe and tidy to avoid health concerns.

“Also within that time I have travelled to each waste recycling centre from Bella Coola to Lac La Hache. I would say out of all these centers, our Thorsen Creek “Free Store” is not functional in comparison,” she noted in the letter.

Pulliam offered to take a portion of the lead and establish: a sub committee, volunteer partner schedule for monitoring space and content, educational campaign support and writing up grant reports for funding infrastructure or building/shelter.

“It’s good to see we have some real interest on the volunteer side,” Manson said.

The share shed in Williams Lake was closed in March 2020 and the Cariboo Regional District has not been re-opened it since. About 25 are still operating in rural areas.

Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
Read more