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Whistler celebrates B.C. Rivers Day

Free canoe rentals, shore cleanup scavenger hunt among activities planned for Rainbow Park Sunday

By Andrew Mitchell

The weather forecast is looking good for this Sunday, which should ensure a good turnout for Whistler’s 10 th annual celebration of B.C. Rivers Day at Rainbow Park. Based on past turnouts, organizers are expecting as many as 150 people to take part.

On Saturday the Whistler Fisheries Stewardship Group is recruiting volunteers to participate in the Vancouver Aquarium/TD Canada Trust’s Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. Participants should meet at Alpha Lake Park at 9 a.m., and will be split into groups to walk around local lakes and clean up garbage. All supplies will be provided.

Sunday’s main event — hosted by the WFSG with support from the municipality, AWARE, Whistler Angling Club and other local groups — takes place at Rainbow Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Events include free canoe use by local operators, an educational scavenger hunt on the lake, fly fishing demonstrations and lessons, educational displays, a kids’ colouring table and face painting.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada will also be there with their Big Fish tent with a variety of live fish and exhibits, and members of the Mt. Currie Lil’wat Nation will be on hand to do a demonstration of Iswalh (Loon) traditional drumming and dancing. A by-donation barbecue will get underway at noon.

Andrea Mead, a Fish and Wildlife Technician for the WFSC, says B.C. Rivers Day is a way to recognize the role rivers and lakes play in recreation, development, culture and the environment in general.

“It’s an opportunity to get out and enjoy the rivers, and remember why they’re so important to us,” she said. “We are fortunate in that we don’t have any rivers of real concern in the municipality, but you don’t have to go far if you look at the Cheakamus.”

Aquatic life in the Cheakamus River downstream of the Cheakmus Canyon was almost decimated last year when a rail car carrying caustic sodium hydroxide derailed and spilled its contents into the river.

Locally she says the WFSG and others are working to restore and enhance rivers to improve water quality, recreation and fish and wildlife habitat, with noticeable results.