Annual cleanup to tackle the mess others leave behind on the Fraser

Last year they hauled away 9,300 kg and organizers are looking forward to building on that success this Saturday

The eighth annual Fraser River Cleanup

The garbage left on the banks of the Fraser River in Chilliwack is a perennial problem.

The eighth annual Fraser River Cleanup, organized by Woodtoone and Fraser River, gets under way March 28, starting from the north end of Gill Road.

“It’s crazy,” said Rachel Schoeler of Fraser River Keeper about the garbage left behind. “I think it’s worse than last year.”

They’re aiming to draw a crowd on Gill Road bar this Saturday.

“Last year we had the highest turnout ever with 170 people showing up. We are hoping for more this year. It’s such a great community.”

Last year’s cleanup took away 9,300 kg of garbage, and organizers are looking forward to building on that success this year.

“My biggest hope for this year’s cleanup is to create awareness and educate people about this problem that is facing all of us,” said Kevin Raffle of Woodtone.

“The problem of illegal dumping and burning isn’t just a Chilliwack one. It’s a problem happening in numerous locations all along the Fraser River watershed.”

The group is chugging along, coming together with likeminded volunteers to tackle garbage dumping on local waterways, and forming a new group, the Fraser Valley Illegal Dumping alliance.

“It’s broader than just the Fraser River,” Schoeler said. Although they’ve removed tonnes of garbage off sensitive river banks, they are also hoping to craft a long-term strategy to finally tackle the issue.

They started a couple of years ago to do more than hosting cleanups, and are working on raising awareness, and underlining the need report trash-dumpers to the RAPP line.

The cleanup usually attracts lots of river stewards.

“A lot of the volunteers are people who are out on the river all the time,” she said. “The Fraser River is so special. People are so touched by it, they are willing to step up and do something about it.”

For the Fraser River cleanup this Saturday, March 28 they’re meeting at the north end of Gill Road at 10 a.m. Reps will be guiding volunteers into the area where they’ll have tents, the safety briefing, and registration. After the cleanup, there’s a free lunch for volunteers, at about noon.