It poured rain all day Saturday.
But that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of hearty volunteers and families at the Fraser River by Gill Road for the 10th Annual Fraser River Cleanup.
“It was coming down in sheets from morning to end,” said Joe Daniels, one of the cleanup organizers from Fraser Riverkeeper.
Organizers aren’t sure of the total tonnage yet, but they expect to have topped 100 tonnes of garbage collected by what was the 10-year anniversary mark.
Longtime volunteer of the Chilliwack-Vedder River Cleanups, Terry Bodman, said he was “uplifted” by the cleanup but as usual “disappointed and frustrated” by what he saw at Gill, which was brazen evidence of partiers who smashed bottles and tossed cans by the river bank of the biggest salmon producing waterway in the world.
“Amazing to see so many people looking after our community despite the terrible weather,” Bodman said. “What an uplifting performance by all the volunteers, the organizers and the sponsors. So why then do I feel so disappointed and frustrated? Frankly, I am disgusted that in our community there are people who think it’s all right to:
• Throw cups and containers anywhere;
• Toss bags of household garbage wherever instead of using the city garbage system;
• Hide material from household renovations,
“In my opinion, the low-lifes responsible for the messes I witnessed Saturday do not belong in my community,” Bodman added.
There was drywall that likely contained asbestos, car seats, shot gun shells and of course lots of pallet nails. There was garbage from homeless campers. There were discarded needles.
“The mess was as bad as we’ve ever seen it at Gill,” Daniels noted.
It was extra gratifying for organizers to have between 250 and 300 people show up, donning rain gear and safety vests to remove thoughtlessly dumped and sometimes toxic trash.
“The turnout really speaks to the dedication of our volunteers, and the determination of the people in the community to address this problem because it really matters to them,” said Daniels.