Victoria councillor Charlayne Thorton-Joe

Victoria councillor Charlayne Thorton-Joe

Organizers gear up to clean local shorelines

On Saturday, Sept. 19, the 15th annual Gorge Waterway Cleanup will focus on cleaning up roughly five kilometres of local shorelines.

What do shopping carts, bicycles, a piano, laptops, and computers have in common? Other than being things that can be purchased from retail stores, they have all been pulled out of the Gorge Waterway over the last few years.

On Saturday, Sept. 19, the 15th annual Gorge Waterway Cleanup will focus on cleaning up roughly five kilometres of shoreline from the Bay Street Bridge to Tillicum Bridge.

Last year, roughly 80 to 100 volunteers collected close to half a tonne of trash, including small items like styrofoam, cellophane, coffee cups, clothing and 1,364 cigarette butts to larger items like tires, bicycles and a newspaper box.

“It builds awareness of just how we need to, as a community, protect the pristineness and beauty of the nature areas that we live close to,” said Suzette Delmage, event organizer and community recreation coordinator for the Burnside Gorge Community Association. “When you see the pile of garbage, you realize how much impact humans actually can have.”

A dive team with CFB Esquimalt will also be scouring the bottom of the waterways as part of the cleanup effort.

Last month, a barge carrying scrap vehicles tipped over in the Gorge Waterway, sending more than 50 cars spilling into the water. While the cleanup effort has begun, Delmage hopes it will increase awareness on the need to keep the environment clean.

“If there’s any positive outcome of having those cars slip into the gorge it would be that it has increased awareness,” she said. “Maybe we’ll find windshield wipers washed up on shore, we don’t know.”

The effort is part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, an event to clean up shorelines in more than 1,880 cities across the country.

Volunteers can sign up the day of in Selkirk Green Park. Limited gloves and boots are available and volunteers are encouraged to bring their own. The event runs from 10 a.m. to noon.

For more information, call Delmage at 250-388-5251 or email suzette@burnsidegorge.ca.