Earth Day a sunny day, brings out crowds in Maple Ridge

Sunny skies and a 40th anniversary drew out the crowds Saturday as ecologically conscious residents checked out Earth Day 2012 in Memorial Peace Park.

A flash mob led by the SFU Cheerleaders team, roving performers, and another flash mob involving a tai chi club kept about 3,000 people entertained in the downtown square.

“The biggest complaint of the day was that everybody didn’t get a chance to see everything,” said Leanne Koehn, one of the organizers at the Ridge Meadows Recycling Society.

“There was maybe too much to see and do.”

Earth Day coincided with the 40th anniversary of the recycling society and also marked the beginning of the year for the Haney Farmer’s Market, which puts out its wares every weekend in the park. The regular season for the Haney Farmer’s Market begins on May 12.

“A very exciting event,” Koehn said of Earth Day.

“We had entertainment all through.”

The recycling society, Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Parks and Leisure Services and the Community Festivals Network have been trying to figure out a way of holding a public event that reduced the amount of waste it produced. To do that, it put together zero-waste stations, which showed people how to recycle all the items they picked up while at the event.

“I think the biggest comment, they told me they heard about those, was that people wanted them in their houses,” said Koehn.

Ideally, an event could be held that generates no garbage, she added.

And Family Freecycle at the Arts Centre Theatre worked well as too. That involved people bringing in their old clothes, books and toys and letting those who needed them, take them.

“It went really well – people brought bags,” explained Koehn.

Tanis Green organized the Family Freecycle and said that the cube van that delivered the donated items arrived full, but left only one quarter full. The remainder will be taken to Webster’s Corners elementary, where it will be used for fundraising.

“It was just so well-taken by people. We had so many people coming to us and saying this is a great idea.”

People were so grateful at being able to get something for the kids or families for free, she added.

Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition’s Cycle Recycle also gave away 16 old bicycles that had been dropped at the recycling depot or donated.

Maple Ridge Cycle gave them the once over before they found new homes.

“We took this opportunity to have our big 40th anniversary party because Earth Day was actually the inspiration for starting recycling in Maple Ridge,” Koehn said.


E vehicles have been around a century

It still runs green, even though it’s a century old. The 1912 Detroit Electric vehicle is usually stored at the Stave Falls Visitor Centre, but the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association rolled it out for Maple Ridge’s Earth Day, Saturday.

Beside it was parked a new Nissan Leaf, a state-of-the-art electric vehicle that also requires no gas tank.

The pair were among seven electric powered vehicles at Earth Day.

Many passersby checked out the vehicles, which included Future Vehicle Technologies’ e-Varo.

“It was really interesting because the guys were chattering away just about all day,” said Dave Koehn, a Maple Ridge member of the electric vehicle association.

Koehn said the Detroit Electric has a range of about 100 kilometres at 30 km/h.

A century later and the 2012 Leaf goes about 150 kilometres on a single charge.

According to the electric vehicle association, the Detroit Electric was driven regularly until about the 1950s. Women liked the lighter steering and reduced noise.

The original nickel-iron batteries were replaced in the 1990s because the cases were deteriorated, although they still worked.

Koehn, though, pointed out: “At the time, electricity was expensive and gas was cheap.”

He said he wanted to get a modern electric vehicle for Earth Day and contacted West Coast Nissan, only to be told that the six they ordered were already sold. A local owner came forward to lend his for the day.

Local Ride bike shop also provided an electric bike for the day.

Koehn still has a converted 1980 Dodge Omni that’s completely electric.

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