Kanaka Creek Regional Park in Maple Ridge, considered a gem by locals, is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.
A week’s worth of data collected during The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup last year revealed roughly 3,200 kg of waste was removed from the shorelines of the creek, putting the park in second place on the Shoreline Cleanup’s list of Canada’s dirtiest shorelines.
“That’s shocking. I find that really hard to swallow,” Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin said.
“I’m just shocked at the number, particularly over such a short period of time.
“People need to respect this gift that’s been given to us. We live in a great little corner of the world and it’s disturbing that people think so little of our environment that they’ll dump everything into the water. It’s disrespectful because Kanaka Creek is a jewel and we need to look after it,” Daykin added.
Coun. Linda King agrees.
“I think it’s heartbreaking. The park is such a precious watershed area and I find it very discouraging that our residents and other visitors wouldn’t be more respectful of that local environment.”
The cleanup, taking place every September, is the largest direct action conservation program in the country and aims to promote a better understanding of shoreline litter issues by getting Canadians to rehabilitate shoreline areas.
Daykin has participated in the past and hopes more people will volunteer to keep their local shorelines clean.
“The last one I did was along Alouette River down in Maple Ridge Park and I was embarrassed and disgusted at what people turf along the riverbank,” Daykin said.
“There were clothes, seat cushions, and the most disturbing thing was the amount of plastic bags filled with dog waste.
“Within a half an hour we had three dozen bags, so it does all add up.”
The mayor and councillor are urging residents and visitors to help keep city parks clean by taking their garbage with them when they’ve finished. “Leave nothing but your footprints,” King said.
Kanaka Creek Regional Park is a long corridor of protected land that stretches 11 kilometres from the Fraser River.
The park is overseen by the Metro Vancouver parks committee and Daykin plans on asking committee members why there is so much waste along the shoreline and what can be done to fix the situation.
On the positive side, Kanaka Creek didn’t place first on the list, that honour goes to Sydenham Lake in Kingston, Ont. where an estimated 5,000 kg of waste was removed,
The least polluted shorelines in the country belong to Wallaceburg–Running Creek in Crothers, Ont. and Lynde Shores Conservation Area in Whitby, Ont. where 0.23 kg of waste was collected collectively.
In total, a distance of 2,235 km of shorelines was cleaned up and more than 98,071 kg in waste was removed.
The top five litter items found included 227,830 cigarette butts, 83,660 food wrappers, 55,880 plastic bags, 55,443 bottle caps and lids and 28,755 disposable cutlery and dishes.