KAMLOOPS — Celebrated on the fourth Sunday of September, World Rivers Day is a BC-born event that began in 1980, as an opportunity to celebrate the waterways which run through our communities. Sunday in Kamloops, a small but dedicated group of residents, city staff, and community advocates gathered at McDonald Park in North Kamloops to take part in a community clean-up to help ensure the continued health of the waterways which run through the River City.
“We’re focusing on four areas of the North Shore… and even though the clean-up is taking place inland as well as along the shore, when rain falls on pavement, it picks up garbage, takes it down the storm drain and releases it into the river system,” City of Kamloops Environment and Sustainability Educator Jaimi Garbutt explained. “All that trash can still end up in the river and affect aquatic life.”
City staff coordinated a number of sites for those helping with the clean-up to pick up supplies like bags, pickers, and tongs, as well as offered some safety tips on picking up some of the items which could be hazardous to the health of those doing the clean-up. That information proved useful, as one group of volunteers discovered.
“[We’re finding] needles, tin, straws, broken glass," volunteer Denise Brown told CFJC Today. “Not as much garbage, but finding a lot of drug paraphernalia.”
Bryce Herman, President of the NSBIA helped organize the clean-up efforts. He says while it appears much of the debris in the area he was cleaning up seemed to be related to drug use, the number of actual needles was down from earlier this year.
“Certainly, there’s a change in what we’re finding,” Herman said. “That has to be applauded, to the community in general, about the awareness of sharps, and the picking up… it’s obviously made a difference.”
Gord Stewart, Executive Director of the Big Little Science Centre says clean-up efforts like this are important because when trash ends up on the streets, it will inevitably find it’s way into the watershed.
“We’ve got to realize we’re in a watershed. Everything we do around Kamloops, and in Kamloops, even on the ground around here does impact the river and can get into the river,” Stewart told CFJC Today. “If we keep in mind we’re in that watershed… and what’s going down into the river, going down the storm drains, what you’re leaving on the ground - any liquids or small items will end up in the river eventually, and could cause serious problems downstream of us.”
For Brown, and many of the other residents out helping with the clean-up, ensuring the health of our city’s waterways is just part of being a responsible member of the community.
“The community means a lot to me. I love Kamloops,” Brown explained. “I want to be involved more with clean-up and making it the best city it could be.”
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