Fraser River Cleanup hits the hotspots around Chilliwack

The 12th annual river cleanup is March 23 and the goal is attracting more youth

The Progress, Jennifer Feinberg

Getting young people out to the annual Fraser River cleanup has always been considered as crucial by cleanup organizers Fraser Riverkeeper and Woodtone.

Attracting youth might be the ultimate answer to shifting attitudes about garbage dumping in everyone’s beautiful backyard.

Cleaning up during the 10th annual Fraser River Cleanup in 2017. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress file)

The 12th annual 2019 Fraser River Cleanup gets underway on March 23, covering a range dump sites and recreational areas near the Fraser River.

They have a few new supporters this year, some more sponsors, and organizers are hoping to attract even more cleanup volunteers to roll their sleeves and put on their work boots.

“Last year we had 650 people, and that was a record. This year we are hoping for 800,” said Kevin Raffle of Woodtone, one of the cleanup organizers.

“We are so glad the community jumps on-board. We couldn’t begin to pull this off without them. They are passionate and involved and it’s fantastic,” said Raffle.“It feels good because the big focus in the past few years is to educate people about what is happening in their own backyard — and especially the next generation.”

They will hit badly desecrated areas like Peg Leg, Jesperson, Ballam Road and more hotspots for evidence left by thoughtless garbage-dumpers and pick up after them.

“We’ve been working to get everyone on the same page. We need to make sure that our waterways stay clean and our cleanup seems to be growing.”

Volunteers come from every walk of life.

“But in a perfect world I’d love to see the day when we hold this event and much there’s less garbage than we’re seeing now,” said Raffle.

They recommend that volunteers wear clothes in layers, sturdy boots, and bring a reusable beverage container. Gloves, bags, pickers, and other safety equipment will be available.

Ocean Ambassadors Canada will be there to educate everyone about the connections to water, and Wildlife Preservation Canada will bring news about local wildlife and the Western Painted Turtle which is being reintroduced to the area.

“Over the past 11 years we have removed 125 tonnes of garbage from the river! We look forward to seeing you this year, rain or shine, to make a difference and give back to the river that gives us so much.”

The Saturday cleanup event runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. with cleanup headquarters at Gill Road this year.

There will be a volunteer appreciation BBQ provided by Restaurant 62 and a prize draw to show thanks for the hard work and dedication of cleanup volunteers.

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