A months-long volunteer-driven clean up operation on a stretch of secluded beach outside of Gibsons climaxed last Saturday with a helicopter pickup of 47 “megabags” worth of trash.
“We could claim right now for this time we have got the cleanest beach on the Coast,” said Elphinstone Community Association president Ron Neilson, who helped lead the project with fellow member Gord Bishop.
“As far as I know, it never has been on this scale. We’ve never had a cleanup on this scale,” he said. The relatively isolated beach means trash tends to accumulate. “This area has been derelict for years.”
Volunteers, including classes from nearby Cedar Grove Elementary School, have been picking up garbage washed up on the two-kilometre beach between Chaster House and Secret Beach and depositing the items into dozens of large, durable totes called “megabags.”
Small and large chunks of Styrofoam were plentiful. The material is often used in dock construction. Other noteworthy items included four large tires.
Organizers secured $5,000 in grants from the Sunshine Coast Regional District to pay for a helicopter to lift the cubic-metre totes onto a barge on Oct. 5.
“It went great. We had perfect weather, no hitches at all,” Neilson said.
Search and Rescue volunteers were on scene to fasten the bags to the line hanging from the helicopter. The trash-laden barge was then unloaded at Gibsons and the contents transported to the Sechelt works yard.
After it’s sorted, the waste will be deposited at the Sechelt dump – tipping fees were paid from the SCRD’s Good Samaritan Program – after being weighed and measured. Once they know the weight and volume of the trash they collected, the association plans to circulate those figures to local governments and agencies.
“Maybe that’ll embarrass some of the other jurisdictions to do something, who knows?” Neilson told Coast Reporter.
Local businesses Airspan helicopters, Coastal Tire, Dolphin Marine, Coast Bins and Gibsons Building Supplies assisted with the cleanup and transportation.