Taking out the trash along the banks of the Fraser

It only take a short amount of time along the banks of the Fraser River before Chilliwack Councillor Ken Popove has a full garbage bag.

He opens it up, revealing dozens of shotgun shells.

“Hope these people weren’t from Chilliwack,” he jokes.

But Popove says there’s nothing funny about the large amount of trash that piles up along the river every year.

“It’s disheartening to see this kind of stuff. Pack out the stuff that you pack in. Don’t damage our beautiful environment,” he says.

Popove and around 100 other people were out early in Chilliwack this morning, taking part in the 2014 Gill Bar Cleanup. It’s an annual event to help clean up the Fraser River, and since 2008 they’ve cleaned up 32 tonnes.

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“Some of the stuff that gets dumped here that’s paint, that’s chemical stuff, it can leach into the river…it’s not good for the fish, and it’s not good for the families that want to play here,” says Tyee Bridge, campaign director for Fraser Riverkeeper, which organized the event.

“We want it to be safe, and we want it to be a beautiful place. You don’t want to come out to a place like this on a weekend and have it look like a dump.”

There are potentially hefty fines and jail time for illegal dumping, and new signs that clearly outline the rules. Despite that, everything from renovation waste to bits of glass to burned trash were found by volunteers today.

“Environmentally, burning anything other than paper or wood is terrible,” says Bridge.

“These burned piles have toxins in them, we see spray paint cans, we see nails, it just makes for an unsafe environment for everybody.”

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