Beside a picturesque sandy cove on Chatham Islands stands a sign warning boaters they are entering a First Nation reserve and trespassers are not welcome.
But, like many before them, two young boaters, oblivious to the signs and to Songhees First Nation and RCMP patrol boats, pulled up on the beach Wednesday.
"These are private lands," shouted Songhees law enforcement officer Trevor Absolon.
"Push off, guys." The two got off easily. Violators could face a $1,000 fine and 30 days in jail, said Absolon, who will be aggressively patrolling Chatham and Discovery islands to stop trespassers.
"That was a pretty good example of the blatant abuse," Absolon said, as the two made a hurried exit.
"The signage was right in front of them and they still came ashore."
Strict enforcement is necessary because of fires, campsites and dumped garbage - including an abandoned wheelchair, Absolon said.
"They are abusing this beautiful place, and that's what we can't tolerate," he said, pointing to a firepit beside the beach, metres away from summer-dry grass.
One errant gust of wind and the entire ecosystem would be destroyed, said Songhees band councillor Ron Sam.
Fires are extinguished by volunteers almost every month. In April, a large fire burned out of control for almost an hour, Sam said.
Empty wine bottles and burnt plastic surrounded the firepit and someone had constructed a massive picnic table nearby.
A toilet area is concealed in the bush and garbage included shotgun shells and firecrackers.
"People even come out looking for artifacts and digging up the ground.
That's really disgraceful," Absolon said.
The islands are private in the same way other local islands are privately owned and people have to learn respect, Sam said.
Chatham Islands and part of Discovery Island - excluding the section that is a provincial park - were included in Songhees reserve lands in the 1990s but, until Songhees acquired a new Zodiac patrol boat this month, enforcement had been minimal.
An annual rave held on the islands, which leaves piles of litter and smouldering campfires, will not be happening this year, Absolon warned.
"We're going to have a big presence," he said.
"I will be here a lot. Far more than people think."
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