SOUTH SURREY â€” 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 â€“ a veteran of events like this â€“ spotted them first. He whipped out his â€œgarbage grabberâ€ (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 Koâ€™s turn. Enlisting the aid of fellow â€œcleanerâ€ Violet Uyeno, who held Koâ€™s left hand from the shore while Ko balanced precariously on a log boom, she came within a few inches.
The final attempt â€“ a mixture of youthful bravery and flat-out will â€“ 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 theyâ€™d left land completely behind.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup came to South Surreyâ€™s Blackie Park on April 26, 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 whoâ€™ll listen that, â€œItâ€™s people that make the mess, itâ€™s people that have to clean it up.â€
There were first-timers Lihui Huang and son Alex Zhang, plodding through the grass, amazed at the amount of small stuff theyâ€™d found.
And there was Trevor and Jodie Perry. Theyâ€™d hosted a sleepover the night before for son Will, and today decided theyâ€™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 â€“ the local environmental organization that manages the Blackie Spit segment of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup â€“ 52 people took part, working an average of 2.5 hours each.
And itâ€™s not too late to get involved. The Cleanup happens twice a year every year â€“ 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.
Head on over to Shorelinecleanup.ca to plan your logistics.