Some 175 people descended upon Cadboro Bay late Sunday morning to help clean up one of the region’s most famous beaches.
Many carrying buckets, others donning diving suites, the volunteers picked up and fished out refuse both small and large, including a toilet bowl that Coun. Ned Taylor and community activist Shawn Newby, president of Saanich Community Associations Network (SCAN), dug up.
“We spent about half an hour digging it out from under a tree,” he said. “Adds new meaning to the crap people leave on the beach!” he added later.
Taylor said he believes the bowl initially belonged to one of boats that routinely strand on the beach.
But if the bowl is perhaps the most visible representation of the flotsam and jetsam that litters beaches everywhere, the event organized by the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation also drew attention to a less visible but perhaps more harmful form of pollution, namely pollution caused by plastics of various sizes and forms, including so-called “nurdles” — small, fragmented pieces of plastic.
“These beach clean ups are really important,” said Taylor. “It’s unfortunate that we do need volunteers to be cleaning our beaches of plastic, Styrofoams and other waste, but that’s the reality we’re living in.”
Pending public input and ratification, Saanich plans to ban single-use plastic bags by Jan. 1, 2020, and several councillors including Taylor have already called for additional measures to ban additional items made out of plastic that contribute to the massive, on-going accumulation of plastic in the world’s oceans.
“When I helped clean up today it reminded me of how important it is for us to start phasing out harmful plastics and move towards reusable, compost-able and recycle-able materials instead,” said Taylor.
For the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Sunday’s clean up was the first of its kind for 2019. For 10 years, every second Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1p.m., Surfrider Vancouver Island has been cleaning up a southern Island beach. For Eric Dahli, chairperson of the Cadboro Bay Residents Association, Sunday’s clean-up was also an annual event for a good cause following this year’s winter storms.
Overall, the beach was relatively clean, and the conditions for Sunday’s clean-up could not have been better, he said.
Still unresolved though is the fate of a ferro-cement boat that stranded onto the Saanich side of the beach almost three weeks ago.
Dahli said the unknown owner of the boat is now trying to patch up the boat, then pull the boat off the beach with a tug boat. At least two prior recovery efforts had failed.
“This one is different [than other cases],” said Dahli.”He wants it back. He doesn’t want it to turn into another derelict.”
Or in other words, he wants to spare some future volunteers the effort of digging up a toilet.