Sunday’s sunny forecast is the bait Garry Elgear is hoping to use to net hundreds of volunteers to lend a hand in cleaning up the Coquitlam River.
The Riverside Fly & Tackle owner is the lead organizer of a yearly cleanup of the local waterway, and this season’s task runs Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Participants will meet at Elgear’s shop, at 2847 Shaughnessy St. in PoCo, before making their way throughout the Coquitlam River watershed, although the focus will be on cleaning the lower reaches of the waterway.
“The No. 1 reason that we’re focusing on the lower reaches is because it’s a lot dirtier,” he said.
“There’s a lot of homeless people down there, so basically we’re going to be cleaning up a lot of tent cities. We’re not going to be disturbing the homeless, though.”
Few things surprise Elgear as he and others make the yearly trek: cleanup crews have pulled everything from toilets to safes out of the river in the 13 years Elgear has organized the event.
Elgear’s also hoping the event will help change the behaviour of local fishermen just as much as any other group using the river. Recently, one of his employee’s pets mistakenly ate a fish hook left on the river bank that ended up costing the pet owner $1,500 in vet bills.
“Even fishermen can be terrible about cleaning up after themselves,” he said. “It can get a bit discouraging. But after the day is over and you’re giving high fives to people for helping out, the feeling of accomplishment that you get with a lot of the other people is worth it. You’re making friends on the river and there’s a good sense of camaraderie.”
And as in years past, Elgear will entice prospective participants by offering a series of prizes: a flat screen TV, rods, reels and free fly-casting lessons will be handed out as prize draws during the day.
“Even when my four-year-old daughter … sees garbage, she is picking it up,” he said.
“That’s what my dad taught me and I know he’s proud of me for doing this. Now I’m proud of my daughter, so it’s like these lessons keep getting passed down.
“Even if you can inspire just a few people, that’s all that matters.”
For more information, or to get involved in Sunday’s cleanup, log on to www.rsfat.com or call 604-944-2479.
© Copyright 2013