Garbage along the Fraser River that was cleaned up at last year’s annual Fraser River Cleanup. This year’s event is being held on March 24. (Submitted)

River cleanup sets sights on Gill Road messes

Annual Fraser River cleanup looking for volunteers for Chilliwack-area event

It’s time to gather your friends and family, work boots and gloves, and get down to the Fraser River.

The 11th Annual Fraser River Cleanup is set for Saturday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the end of Gill Road. Volunteers are needed, as always, to clear away the garbage that is likely to be found throughout the area. Over the past 10 years, the annual cleanup has removed 112 tonnes from the riverside. The cleanup is timed so that the river is cleaned up before the water rises.

The cleanup began back in 2007, with a small group of volunteers and a big love for salmon and rivers, hosted by Fraser Riverkeeper. Since then, they’ve partnered with Woodtone, and the late Andy Rotzetter of Rotz Disposal to clean up the alarming amount of illegally dumped garbage from wilderness areas and salmon habitat along the Fraser River in Chilliwack.

“Since day one, the time and resources donated by volunteers and our generous sponsors have been the driving force behind this event,” says Woodtone representative Kevin Raffle. “We are confident that this is one of the largest single-day mass cleanups in the country, in terms of garbage collected and volunteer turnout.”

This year’s cleanup will be followed by a volunteer appreciation BBQ and prize raffle draw to thank volunteers for their hard work and dedication to keeping the Fraser River safe and clean for all to enjoy.

“The spring cleanup is one of the highlights of the year for us,” says cleanup co-founder and Fraser Riverkeeper board member Lauren Hornor. “Every year the turnout grows, and it’s become such a tremendous generator of citizen action on the Fraser. We’re always so impressed and grateful for the community response, and for all that our sponsors and partners do to make it a big success.”

Additional logistical support, safety gear, and heavy equipment operation will be provided by Timbro Contracting, BioCentral, First Class Waste / Alpine Disposal, Big K Clothing, and the City of Chilliwack. Once again, Restaurant 62 and Gordon Food Service will be serving up a delicious BBQ lunch, with additional refreshments supplied by Starbucks and the Chilliwack Water Store. The Vancouver Aquarium’s AquaVan will also be there, providing a fun and interactive learning experience for kids.

“More and more businesses and organizations are becoming involved in the cleanup and are interested in the work that the Fraser Valley Illegal Dumping Alliance is doing to stop illegal dumping before it happens,” says Raffle. “The Fraser River is the main artery that connects our entire watershed in the Fraser Valley and beyond. As with every year, we want to celebrate this beautiful ecosystem at our back door, as well as continue to educate the general public about how to protect it from abuse.”

Cleanup support also provided by Kal Tire, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC, Fraser Valley Salmon Society, Great River Fishing Adventures, BC Hydro, Chilliwack Minor Baseball, Patagonia, Inner Vision Yoga, Envision Financial, Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation, and Vancity Credit Union.

To learn more, visit the event page on Facebook, or www.fraserriverkeeper.ca.

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