PHOTOS: Waterfront cleanup aims to remove ‘yuckies’ from South Surrey beach

Leanna Wurz, 3, shows a plastic straw that she found on East Beach Thursday (Aug. 20) during a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup effort organized by her mom, Rachel. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Leanna Wurz, 3, picks up a bottle cap during an Aug. 20 Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup effort organized by her mom, Rachel. (Tracy Holmes photo)
More than a dozen volunteers helped pick up garbage along East Beach Thursday (Aug. 20) morning, during a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup event organized by White Rock’s Rachel Wurz (left). (Tracy Holmes photo)
Cigarette butts were a common find along the East Beach waterfront Thursday (Aug. 20) morning. (Tracy Holmes photo) Cigarette butts were a common find along the East Beach waterfront Thursday (Aug. 20) morning. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Bottle caps were among the debris removed from East Beach Thursday (Aug. 20) by volunteers during a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup organized by White Rock mom Rachel Wurz. (Tracy Holmes photo) Bottle caps were among the debris removed from East Beach Thursday (Aug. 20) by volunteers during a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup organized by White Rock mom Rachel Wurz. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Alison and Masa Ito and their children Emi, 6, and Kai, 4, participate in a cleanup of East Beach Thursday (Aug. 20) morning. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Mia Pedersen (right) looks for garbage along East Beach Thursday (Aug. 20) during a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup event organized by Rachel Wurz. (Tracy Holmes photo)
Rachel Wurz and Mia Pedersen review and record debris collected from East Beach by Pedersen Thursday (Aug. 20) during a shoreline cleanup organized by Wurz. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Leanna Wurz may be only three years old, but the frustration she has with people who litter was clear in her voice Thursday morning (Aug. 20) during a visit to East Beach with her brother Connor and mom Rachel.

“They keep dropping their yuckies,” the White Rock youngster said after using a ‘picker’ to remove yet another offending piece of debris from the shoreline.

Embedding such care for the environment and wildlife, and the damage that pollution such as littering can have on it, in her children is second-nature to Rachel Wurz. It’s something she learned as a child, and that she wants her own children to carry throughout their own lives, she said.

“I was always taught the same,” she said. “If we don’t care, it’s just going to get worse.”

And while the family always incorporates a cleanup into their beach visits – they’ve done about a dozen so far this summer – Thursday’s efforts were part of the larger Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. That national conservation initiative launched in 1994, and has since removed more than two million kilograms of trash from Canada’s shorelines. Last year alone, 3,012 cleanups were registered, and more than 83,000 people pitched in, according to the organization’s 2019 report.

READ MORE: Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup turns 20

READ MORE: South Surrey shoreline effort clears 150lbs of trash

Thursday, more than a dozen volunteers joined the Wurz family, removing a total of 69 lbs (31.3 kg) of garbage from a stretch of shoreline between the train bridge over the Little Campbell River and Finlay Street.

Cigarette butts and plastic – everything from straws to beach toys – made up the bulk of the debris. Cringe-worthy finds included feminine-hygiene products.

Wurz said the volume of debris was less than she usually sees on her visits, likely due to a spontaneous effort undertaken the day before by area residents disgusted by what they encountered.

Patricia Rogers posted her thoughts and photos on the For The Love of White Rock Facebook page Wednesday (Aug. 19), after she and three neighbours spent an hour picking up garbage along the waterfront.

“Never have I seen so much filth in the bushes as this year. People if you have to go to the bathroom go find one don’t do it off the beach. Disgusting!!!”

Commenters noted that everything from dirty diapers to bags of dog poop and broken bottles have been left behind more and more often.

One encouraged fining offenders, many expressed thanks.

Wurz said the increase in litter could be tied in part to the pandemic, as people looking to get out of the house on a nice day see the beach as the perfect place to do so; one where social distancing is relatively easy to abide by.

But, “people are enjoying the beach and not looking after it,” she said.

“I’ve seen tampons, I’ve seen diapers. People have been finding drug paraphernalia.”

Volunteer Mia Pedersen – who said she thinks of the beach “as my backyard,” and treats is with the same respect – said the weirdest thing she’s ever found left behind was an urn. The high school teacher came out Thursday in part with a hope of getting some help to remove a couple of large blankets that she had noticed three weeks earlier. Midway through the two-hour effort, items that helped fill her garbage bag included a handful of beach toys.

Alison Ito, a teacher at Southridge School, said participating Thursday made her realize the extent of the problem.

“Until we did this, we didn’t notice it so much,” she said.

Debris she and her husband, Masa, and their kids Kai, 4, and Emi, 6, collected ranged from bottle caps and cigarette butts to bags of dog poop.

“We thought people were better,” she said.

Ito added that she also wanted to participate to learn more about planning such initiatives, as she wants to do something similar with Southridge’s Green Team.

Like Wurz – who promised to post details of a cleanup planned for next month to the For The Love of White Rock Facebook page – Ito believes in the value of teaching respect for the environment as early as possible; to understand what it means to give back, and the impact a person’s actions can have.



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

beachesEnvironmentSurreyvolunteerswhite rock

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Each step is a prayer’: Ojibwe man will walk from Hope to Vancouver Island for Indigenous healing, reconciliation

James Taylor departs Sept. 20, returns to Saanich in five days for sacred fire

COLUMN: We don’t need an election. But it’s 2020, so we’ll probably get one anyways.

There are only selfish reasons for the NDP to trigger an election this fall

Say ‘Hi’ to the mountains (and rain): The smoke is gone from the Fraser Valley, for now

Saturday’s Fraser Valley air quality forecast at ‘moderate risk,’ but morning showers leave skies clear

Chilliwack Agriculture Tour goes virtual during pandemic

Rather than bus tourists to local farms, tour stops will be posted on Facebook and Instagram

City of Chilliwack holding annual Hazardous Waste Day in early October

The one-day event is a chance to get rid of household things like pesticides and paint cans

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Most Read