An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THERE’S SO MUCH bad news going around these days that it’s a pleasant surprise indeed to read about something really positive. It’s even better when it involves a government program that actually worked.
The B.C. government announced in August it would provide $3.5 million to clean up the province’s coast line. It was called the Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative, and was part of the response to COVID-19, creating work for some 150 crew members.
A coalition was formed that included First Nations, small ship tour operators, the Wilderness Tourism Association and others, and in September and October it got to work, patrolling a thousand kilometers of shoreline in two 21-day expeditions.
The first expedition resulted in the removal of 61 tonnes of garbage — tsunami debris, plastics, fishing gear, styrofoam and so on — from the Coast, bagged and hauled away on a barge the size of a hockey rink.
By the time the second expedition wrapped up, 127 tonnes had been removed, thanks to the efforts of six First Nations and crews using nine ships, 18 Zodiacs, a helicopter and the barge.
It’s a beautiful thing, seeing this happen. People who would otherwise have been out of work due to the pandemic contributing in a big way to protecting our environment.
The exercise illustrates the crummy way we treat the land and waters that sustain us, but offers hope that we can do something about it if we have the will. And it shows that if government listens to the concerns and ideas of those it serves, it can accomplish wonderful things.
The cleanup, though, only made a dent in the mess we’ve made of our coastline. Its success should encourage a determination to do it again, and again, until we’ve gotten control of the problem.
In the meantime, we should feel good about a very good start.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.