Almost 4,000 kilograms of trash and metal was carted out of the Chilliwack River Vally on Sunday morning.
The garbage removal was part of the annual BC Rivers Day efforts to keep the province’s waterways clean, in the face of problem polluters.
About 300 volunteers showed up, willing to get their hands and boots dirty for the cause. They were assigned places to clean and in total found 3,150 kg of garbage, and 730 kg of metal.
That doesn’t even include the items not weighed, like discarded tires, cardboard and other recyclables, deposit bottles, wood, and propane and gas tanks.
That brings the grand total of garbage collected off the Chilliwack Vedder River since 2002 to just over 100 metric tonnes.
Chilliwack Hope MLA Laurie Throness was among the volunteers, and was sent to help cleanup one of the “shooter alleys,” littered with shotgun shells.
“I was astounded by the beauty of the scenery,” he said. “It’s an amazing place and most of it is clean. But my happiness was dampened a little when I got to the dump site, to the thousands of shot gun shells, smashed whiskey bottles.”
He said the province is 93 per cent Crown land, and the government relies on residents to do their part to keep the wilderness free of garbage.
“There will always be people who want to enjoy the beauty of the CRV and leave their ugliness behind and that’s a sad thing,” Throness said. “I will always be an advocate for more education and enforcement, and I spoke to environment officials about that as early as last week, and I will continue to advocate for that.”
FVRD Area E Director Orion Engar was also on hand for the cleanup. He noted that in other places, including Germany, littering isn’t an issue.
“Everybody cleans up, and they have competitions between the various communities,” to see who can keep their neighbourhoods the cleanest.
He said Sunday’s volunteers were “setting the standard and are the gathering force” in getting more people to start taking care of the environment.
“Sooner or later this momentum is going to build more and more, to where they’re all being as conscious as they are in Germany,” Engar noted.
Chris Gadsden, chairman of the Chilliwack Vedder River Cleanup Society, said he and his committee are “very pleased with a record turnout of volunteers and that there are so many families that are concerned about the welfare of this river watershed.
“As well getting this garbage off the riparian zone of the river, it prevents it being washed down river to the Fraser and out to the Salish Sea.”