Group getting ready to tidy up the tide

Shoreline cleanup part of an international awareness effort

By Niomi Pearson – Ladysmith Chronicle

On Sept. 17, a group of dedicated volunteers will storm Kin Beach in Chemainus for the annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

Armed with plastic bags and trash sticks, the volunteers will pick up the littered remains of summer vacation off the sand and pebbles and into the garbage bin where it belongs.

Chemainus site co-ordinator Arlene Robinson said more than 20 people came out to the event last year, which has been organized by the Chemainus Neighbourhood House Association for the last three years.

“We cleaned up the whole of Kin Beach and we had all kinds of interesting things, even a gigantic, and I mean gigantic battery from a fish boat,” she said. “It was so big it took four people to pull it up and put it in with the other stuff.”

“How it got dumped on the beach we’ll never know… maybe they thought nobody would notice because the tide was out.”

Robinson said it is amazing the stuff that some people throw on the beach, such as broken lawn chairs, chunks of metal and plastic containers.

“You’re just not aware of how much garbage is going on to our beaches,” she said.

“People just dump their garbage which is really sad, and pieces of broken glass, you don’t want that for your children.”

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup takes place September 17-25 and is an international effort to help out the environment and keep shorelines free of debris.

“It started in 1994 with just a handful of Vancouver Aquarium employees that cleaned the local shoreline as part of the international coastal cleanup… it spread out B.C.-wide and then in 2002 the program went national,” said cleanup manager Jill Dwyer.

“Then in 2003, and every year since we have had cleanups in every province and territory.”

A big part of the cleanup is education and awareness about the issues surrounding aquatic debris, Dwyer said.

“Our ultimate goal is that we wouldn’t have to hold these cleanups at all anymore, because the shorelines are all clean.”

Every year, cleanup sites are asked to compile data on the type of items they are removing from the beach. From that, a ‘dirty dozen’ list is created based on the number of reoccurring offenders.

“Cigarettes butts are at the top of that almost every year,” Dwyer said. “Year after year, what we see is that the majority of the garbage originates from land, and from things like recreational activities —food wrappers, plastic bags, plates, cans, bottles, cups, knives…”

For the first time since 2003, there are no cleanups arranged in the Ladysmith area. Last year, a cleanup was organized for Transfer Beach park and in 2009, there was a cleanup at Ladysmith Harbour, and there have been numerous cleanups prior.

Dwyer said there is still time to co-ordinate a cleanup, but the deadline to register a site is September 14. To find out more information or to register, visit http://shorelinecleanup.ca/ or call 1-877-427-2422

For those interesting in helping out with the Kin Beach cleanup, it starts at 11 a.m. on September 17, rain or shine. Volunteers should dress according to the weather and bring a few plastic shopping bags, a trash grabber (if possible) and gloves, though latex gloves will be provided on site. Hot chocolate and coffee will also be served.

“The more people the merrier, the faster it goes, and it’s wonderful because it makes people aware of what’s happening at our beaches,” Robinson said. “It  doesn’t matter if it’s raining or not, we’re out there because it’s once a year and it’s the only real beach that we have here that’s accessible and a lot of people use it, including tourists.”

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