Nature lover takes it upon himself to clean up Styrofoam mess along Pitt Lake

Victor Okunev found this abandoned floating dock on the shores of Pitt Lake. (Facebook)Victor Okunev found this abandoned floating dock on the shores of Pitt Lake. (Facebook)
Seeing the Styrofoam below the dock was starting to break down, Okunev removed it, and piled what he could on the side of the road. (Facebook)Seeing the Styrofoam below the dock was starting to break down, Okunev removed it, and piled what he could on the side of the road. (Facebook)
Victor Okunev hauls out some trash on his paddle board from the shores of Alouette Lake in Maple Ridge. (Special to The News)Victor Okunev hauls out some trash on his paddle board from the shores of Alouette Lake in Maple Ridge. (Special to The News)

Victor Okunev said he loves going for walks along the shores of Pitt Lake.

On one such stroll last week (Jan 11), the nature lover from Port Moody spotted a floating dock which had escaped its moorings at some point.

He said the large foam blocks which would ordinarily keep the dock afloat were being crushed by the waves beating against them.

“The Styrofoam crumbles quite easily, and I could see it was going to pollute the lake,” he said.

READ MORE: Landslide destroys and damages cabins on Pitt Lake

Okunev pointed out the micro-plastics from the broken down Styrofoam could eventually travel down the Pitt River, and into the Fraser River, before going out into the ocean.

“It’s nasty,” he said.

Deciding to take some initiative, the Port Moody man fished all the blocks which had been detached from the derelict dock, and placed them in a pile close to the nearby road in the hopes somebody with a pick-up truck would remove them.

He also called the City of Pitt Meadows to inform them of the mess.

According to the city, the responsibility for Pitt Lake, Pitt River, and the Pitt-Addington Marsh Wildlife Conservation Area would be a provincial one.

While Okunev hopes municipalities and the province continue to do their best to clean up the local natural spots, he thinks those who enjoy the surroundings, should do their part too.

“The worst part is, no-one seems to care,” Okunev said.

“There are lots of people who walk on these dikes just next to Pitt Lake, who take pictures, and admire the birds, but then they turn away from these blocks.

“That makes me sad. Who else is going to protect this nature if not us?”

For all his talk, Okunev makes sure he walks-the-walk, or paddle’s the board in some instances.

“Every year, my kids and I take our paddle boards on Widgeon Creek (which is on the west side of Pitt Lake) and pick up all the trash people leave over the summer.

“It’s mostly beer cans, and bottles, and plastic bags. We load our paddle boards with all the junk and haul it away.”

He said he does the same at Alouette Lake at the end of the year.

His message to other nature lovers is simple.

“If you see trash, pick it up!

“You might not have left it yourself, but you can’t just ignore it.

“The only way our surroundings can be saved, is if every person picks up a tiny amount of trash when they’re out.

“Then maybe there’s hope.”

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