As my plane landed in Edmonton last week, I quickly realized that spring in Alberta is a bit different from spring in British Columbia. Although it was already May, the city was covered in a thick layer of snow and the snow was still falling. Safe to say, I was concerned.
I was in Edmonton to celebrate the largest shoreline cleanup in the history of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited, at A. Blair McPherson School. Teacher and site coordinator, Nick Reimann, rallied 1,000 volunteers, including students, teachers and community volunteers, to cleanup Fulton Marsh.
Nick assured me that the cleanup would go on, despite the snow. These were Albertan kids after all. So I joined Grade 4 kids to clean up the schoolyard and local streets as the snow began to melt. We picked up plastic and cigarette butts before they could flow with the meltwater down stormwater drains. Every drain leads to a waterway and picking up garbage around storm drains prevents litter from ending up on our shorelines.
The drains around A. Blair McPerson School flow into Fulton Marsh, an urban waterway where birds and animals live. I headed to the marsh with the Grade 7 kids. We spotted birds flying and swimming in the water. These birds may mistake garbage for food, or become entangled. As we moved around the waterway, we picked up construction materials, plastic bags and shopping carts.
Back at school, we weighed the bags and threw the garbage into a dumpster. As we surveyed the data we’d collected, another group of students headed out to the marsh to do their part in keeping their local waterway clean and healthy. Throughout the day, 1,000 people took part in this epic cleanup.
We have a huge range of shorelines in Canada. A shoreline is any place where land connects with water and could be a freshwater stream, an urban drain or an inland lake. Many people think of shorelines as beaches and coastlines, but every town in every province has a shoreline.
When we say you can coordinate a shoreline cleanup any time of year, anywhere land meets water, we really mean it. Every cleanup contributes to healthy waterways for wildlife and communities across Canada. Even if snow still covers your town, the Edmontonians showed me that we can all have a positive impact on a shoreline.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a joint conservation initiative of the Vancouver Aquarium and WWF Canada. Last year, more than 140,000 kilograms of shoreline litter was collected from shorelines throughout Canada. Register your cleanup today at www.shorelinecleanup.ca
Blog post by Kate Le Souef, manager of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited and supported by Ricoh Canada, at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre.