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Volunteers abound in West Howe Sound

West Howe Sound
howe sound
Rob Bennie and his grandson above the beach at Hopkins Landing.

A hammer pounded, and I looked up to locate the sound. A few metres above the beach at Hopkins Landing, Rob Bennie and his grandson Nolan were perched in a massive cedar tree. Bennie was building a treehouse. 

The tree twists above the esplanade about a third of the way going south from Hopkins pier. Bennie lives near the south end of the beach. 

For the past several years, the Hopkins Landing Waterworks District has been reinforcing the rock wall that protects the esplanade. When the section abutting the tree was being built this past winter, an old treehouse came down. 

Bennie replaced it with a sturdier structure. Through his initiative, children have a new, beach-style jungle gym that rivals the fun factor of any playground I’ve seen on the Coast. 

“The kids around here will love it,” Bennie said. 

In another volunteer effort, West Howe Sound resident Kirk Pleasant is organizing a cleanup event. 

He was checking his mail on North Road a while back and saw two trout in a ditch, he told a meeting of the West Howe Sound Community Association. The fish had trouble swimming because the ditch was clogged with trash. So was the roadside. 

He called some friends who joined him in a cleanup at the top of the bypass. They found plastics, cans, coffee grinds, and – in one spot – more than 25 brandy bottles. 

Since then, more garbage accumulated in the area, Pleasant said. Anyone who wants to volunteer to clean up the bypass area is asked to meet him at Persephone Brewing between 9:30 and 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 12. The cleanup will end around noon. 

Also at the WHSCA meeting, members heard from Fiona Beaty, project manager of marine mapping for the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program. 

For three decades the Howe Sound ecosystem has been recovering from pulp-mill contaminants and effluent from the Britannia Mine, she said. Whales have returned. Others species, such as rockfish and lingcod, remain critically depleted. 

The mapping project aims to identify locations where climate change, population growth, development or industry threaten the ecosystem. The areas need monitoring and enforcement, Beaty said. 

The enforcement theme continued during the April 11 meeting with several people complaining about a lack of conservation officers on the Coast. Pleasant called for enforcement for littering. 

Enforcement is important, but there’s a gentler approach that could encourage people to not harm the environment in the first place. The WHSCA has been planning to erect a “Welcome to West Howe Sound” sign near the ferry terminal. The association recently decided to add a second line to the sign. It would call West Howe Sound a “reuse-reduce-recycle community.” 

That would remind residents about community values, and visitors might think twice before littering. 

It may be easier than previously anticipated to erect the sign. In another accolade to volunteering, WHSCA president Maura Laverty said the association may not need a grant in order to build it. “We have enough folks who would donate their time and resources,” she said. 

If you’d like to volunteer with the WHSCA please email westhowesound@gmail.com or attend the association’s next general meeting June 20. The guest speaker will be Sunshine Coast medical health officer Dr. Geoff McKee. 

Until then, you can reach me with news of West Howe Sound at Elizabeth@rains.ca.

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