‘People make the mess and it’s people who clean it up’

There they were. A couple of beer cans and a plastic soda bottle, floating enticingly just out of reach in the pond behind the pump house at the northeast corner of Blackie Spit.

Don Mark – a veteran of events like this – spotted them first. He whipped out his "garbage grabber" (essentially a really long pair of tongs) and stretched out over the water as far as he could without falling in. He came up three feet short.

Now it was Kayla Ko’s turn. Enlisting the aid of fellow "cleaner" Violet Uyeno, who held Ko’s left hand from the shore while Ko balanced precariously on a log boom, she came within a few inches.

The final attempt – a mixture of youthful bravery and flat-out will – was something to behold. Ko and good friend Tyler Ratcliffe, both students Earl Marriott Secondary,

threw caution to the wind, creeping, together, ever so slowly along the boom until they’d left land completely behind.

Mission accomplished.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup came to South Surrey’s Blackie Park in late April and it was by every measure a success.

There was retiree Brian Lissimore, a Birds on the Bay member, patrolling the beach with his garbage grabber and telling anyone

who’ll listen that, "It’s people that make the mess, it’s people that have to clean it up."

There were first-timers Lihui Huang and son Alex Zhang, plodding through the grass, amazed at the amount of small stuff they’d found.

And there was Trevor and Jodie Perry. They’d hosted a sleepover the night before for son Will, and today decided they’d bring the bunch of them to Blackie Spit for a little environmental activism.

Along with 200 cigarette butts (yes, they kept track), they also found a rather nice wooden stool.

Ultimately, says Margaret Cuthbert of the Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society – the local environmental organization that manages the Blackie Spit segment of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup – 52 people took part, working an average of 2.5 hours each.

And it’s not too late to get involved. The Cleanup happens twice a year every year – once in the spring and again in the fall. Interested parties merely join a Cleanup in their area or organize one of their own. Currently, there are dozens of Cleanups already registered in Surrey alone.

Visit Shorelinecleanup.ca.

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