When a passion for waterways mixes with the determination to take action, amazing things can happen. Hamilton, Ontario resident Lee Brubacher had never organized a shoreline cleanup before, but this September he led a crew on land and by boat covering five kilometres of shoreline and water. Altogether they picked up 300kg of litter!

Lee gathered 17 members of his West Highland Church to clean along the Burlington Bay shoreline. Those on foot picked up litter along the Waterfront Trail. Others joined the flotilla of two canoes, four kayaks and a motorized dinghy to clean around Carroll’s Point. Lee shared his experience leading his first ever cleanup with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, and the inspiration behind it.

Why did you want to clean up your local waterway?

While kayaking in Hamilton Harbour earlier this summer, I noticed litter on the water and along the shoreline. A quick glance showed me hundreds of water bottles, caps, bags, and other bits of plastic. I saw several car tires which had obviously been dumped down a forested hillside at the back of a cemetery.

After this paddling excursion, I wrote an article for our local newspaper, asking the readers to do their part to clean up our waterways. Once this piece was printed, I became convinced that I needed to do more than simply write about it.

How did the community get involved or support your cleanup?

I was in contact with a few Hamilton residents about our event. They verbalized their support enthusiastically. Many people who walked and cycled by during the cleanup, stopped to find out what we were doing and expressed their appreciation for our efforts.

What was the best part of your shoreline cleanup?

Spending a Saturday morning with family and friends from our church and making a positive impact on our bay. It was certainly dirty work, but not terribly difficult. A simple commitment of time and energy was required. It was encouraging to arrive back at our launch spot and be greeted by the other boaters and walkers – each with multiple bags full of garbage.

What’s the strangest item you found?

We found a nearly new City of Hamilton orange construction cone. This was a big one that stood four feet high.

Why did you take part in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup?

We did this cleanup because we care. We care for our city and the people in it. We care for the planet and all its creatures.

Apart from larger litter items, volunteers also picked up 324 pieces of tiny plastic or foam, 240 plastic bags, 204 bottle caps, 178 food wrappers, 169 plastic bottles, and more!

Lee is a nature enthusiast and an avid boater who has spent his life out on the water in canoes, kayaks and sailboats. His love for lakes, rivers and oceans inspired him to lead a cleanup on his local shoreline and engage his community as the Worship Director at West Highland Church.

If you’re inspired to get involved and clean your local shoreline visit www.shorelinecleanup.ca.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited and Coca-Cola Canada, is one of the largest direct action conservation programs in Canada. A conservation partnership of Ocean Wise and WWF-Canada, the Shoreline Cleanup aims to promote understanding of shoreline litter issues by engaging Canadians to rehabilitate shoreline areas through cleanups. www.ShorelineCleanup.ca

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