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General · 25th April 2018
Ray Grigg
Our 21st Annual Beach Clean-up was another remarkable success. The day was sunny, warm, bright and full of Spring's promise. And it corresponded exactly to Earth Day this year. Once again, Sierra Quadra extends thanks to the many Islanders who scoured our beaches for unwanted detritus — mostly plastics — and did an amazing job of bagging it, bringing it to the designated collections points so it could be loaded on pickup trucks and then transferred to the larger vehicles for disposal.

Large styrofoam was less abundant this year, but tires were still plentiful, as was miscellaneous material from the shellfish industry. But we got help from two of their companies, Sawmill Bay Seafood and Out Landish Shellfish Guild, who will distribute the unbroken trays back to the industry for reuse.

The total volume of all beach garbage was down this year. In all, we managed to rid our beaches of five truckload equivalents of garbage, down from six last year. Our computational expert on these matters, John Barclay, has determined that our total collected beach garbage in 2016 was 142.6 cubic yards, in 2017 it was 95.1, and this year it was 76.1, or 80% of last year's collection, and just 53% of 2016. The majority of this is plastic, a global pollutant that is being acknowledged as an increasingly serious problem for both human and environmental health. The volume we collect is not an indication of a resolving problem since microplastics are becoming a major contaminant in ocean health. Of special note, one of our Islanders heroically wrestled a large pile of tangled fishnet from a tide pool near Francisco Point.

Beach Clean-up has truly become a community event. Although Sierra Quadra organizes the basic logistics, the important work has expanded into a self-organizing operation involving hundreds of Islanders. This Earth Day event has become an expression of our deep caring for our beautiful island home, and a measure of the accomplishment that is possible when we work together as a community. It's noteworthy that not one dollar changes hands to make this remarkable event happen.

Over the years, Quadra islanders have continued to support this event with increasing energy, enthusiasm and efficiency. For our 21st annual event, we offer special thanks to the many people and many businesses who made this event possible. Beyond the many Islanders who provided pickup trucks, we want to acknowledge the owners of the large trucks who committed their big machines and time to the task: G. Roy Dahlnas Excavating, 2 trucks from Sorensen-MacDonald Enterprises, 2 trucks from On Track Excavating (Chris Phillips) and a large bin from Waste Management. All this equipment plus the numerous pickup trucks were crucial to this project’s success.

We must also thank B.C. Ferries for providing free passage for all the trucks taking the garbage to the landfill site in Campbell River, to the Strathcona Regional District for free tipping at the dump (in collaboration with the Manager of Solid Waste for the Comox Valley Regional District). And we wish to thank BC Parks for its co-operation, and to Susan at Rebecca Spit for her assistance. The Discovery Islander gave a helpful profile to the event as did The Gumboot, and Robyn Budd's colourful posters. The delicious potato-squash soup came from Heriot Bay Inn. And the invaluable Spirit Points from Tru Value Foods (Heriot Bay and Q. Cove) provided additional food. Thrifty Foods contributed juice. Intense Rentals (Jim Thievin) provided the large tent that housed our central food station. And Coastal Community Credit Union provided their tent, along with gloves, bags and coffee.

Food and refreshments are a highlight of the Beach Clean-up because they provide an opportunity to meet, visit, relax and indulge. Sierra Quadra is very grateful to this year's bakers, cooks, chili and sandwich makers, servers, and the many others who helped in many large and small ways — including musical entertainment by Kris Wellstein, Ken Burns and John Walton.

But our most special thanks go to all Quadra Islanders who wrestled styrofoam and tires over driftwood, and who collected and bagged the unwanted beach garbage. Without your many hours of work, the Beach Clean-up would not have been a success. Once again, you have all made Quadra Island a healthier and more beautiful place in which to live. After a successful Beach Clean-up enhanced by a beautiful April day, “Simply Paradise” seems even less like an exaggeration.