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Folk campers leave litter
Confusion over who is responsible for mess; Festival president says city maintains land outside fenced area

Kirsten Fenn
Northern News Services
Friday, July 28, 2017

Campers left a huge mess at the city's popular festival site earlier this month.

NNSL photograph

A pile of garbage is seen in the sand next to the Folk on the Rocks site by Long Lake last Friday. - Kirsten Fenn/NNSL photo

A city representative says the city will work with organizations to clarify clean-up roles and encourage people to be conscientious about littering after a load of garbage was left in a pile adjacent to the Folk on the Rocks site and was still sitting there as of July 23.

The mess had been cleaned up as of yesterday.

For at least a full week after the end of the festival, which ran July 15 and 16, empty beer and soda cases, red solo cups, cigarettes, plastic containers, paper scraps and a dismantled metal chair were scattered in the sandy area near the parking lot.

The area is not an official campground, according to Folk on the Rocks president Ryan Fequet, although a number of tents were pitched there during festival weekend.

Nailed to a tree not far away from the garbage, a sign with a raven painted on it reads: "Respect the land, air and water."

"We want people to enjoy the outdoors, but they have to be respectful of the areas as well," said Brian Kelln, programs manager in the community services department at the City of Yellowknife.

With every big event hosted in town, he said, the city works with groups to ensure waste is cleaned up, providing things like garbage cans to get it done.

"Then it's up to that organization to get volunteers to clean the site," he said, adding they are usually given about a week to 10 days.

"We work with the team so that they know what their responsibilities are and where we can help."

Fequet said Monday that Folk on the Rocks volunteers were still cleaning up their site, but added only the property within the green fence is the organization's responsibility.

"Anything outside the green fence is solely the city's land," said Fequet, adding he was planning to be in touch with the city about the garbage.

"The city's always responded to that pretty timely," he said.

Folk on the Rocks volunteers spend a lot of time cleaning the site, even doing things like sifting sand for glass so people don't cut their feet, according to Fequet.

"We definitely take a lot of time and effort, because that's a very important part of our festival, is the environmental responsibility," he said.

Kelln said the city would address the problem and added encouraging people to be respectful of the environment requires ongoing education.

"The big message is it's not one team, it's everybody that has to make a difference," he said. "We do our best to go around and keep our city clean because we're proud of our community and we need everybody's help to change everybody's thoughts about littering."

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