Inaugural Great Lake Cleanup a 'great' success 

Broken canoe, bottles and cans pulled off lake bottoms

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Whistler's most popular lakes have a renewed shine following a volunteer clean up last weekend.

Organized by Whistler councillor Roger McCarthy, about 40 volunteers turned out Aug.3 to scour the bottom and sides of Nita Lake, Alpha Lake. Alta Lake and Lost Lake.

"To be bluntly honest, we had a hell of a lot of fun," said McCarthy describing the event as a raging success.

"It was a beautiful day and we had a great team on the barge."

Two barges were brought in to help with the collection of recovered items at Alta Lake, where McCarthy led the clean up team.

"You don't have beer cans winking at you off the bottom of the lake," said McCarthy. "I think the people out there did a hell of a job."

Some of the volunteers came with wetsuits while others were prepared with rakes, long poles, and tools to drag things off the bottom.

"We're not finished," McCarthy said of work his team did at Alta Lake. "We got two thirds along the way on the west side and on the east side they got most of it. It's clear we didn't get all of it so we'll do it again next year."

McCarthy said the most unusual item recovered was a broken up canoe. Other things dredged up included deckchairs, mats and, of course, aluminum cans.

At Nita Lake, Kaela Koly, 17, and her siblings were part of a team committed to pulling any garbage they could reach off the bottom of the small lake. Kaela and her sister Ashlynne, 13, teamed with their brother Stean Kury, 19, to initially make use of a canoe, a rake and a garbage picker to salvage items off the lake bottom near the eastern shore.

One of their first finds was what they initially thought was a diaper but they concluded it might have been a shirt. The trio also came across many aluminum cans, beer bottles, dog toys and a golf ball at the bottom of the lake near the shore.

The siblings found the canoe unstable, and that just led to bickering, so they traded it for standup paddleboards and found even greater success.

Kury, who is studying environmental science at university in Saskatchewan, eventually decided to slip off his board and into the lake to retrieve garbage that was too deep to be recovered with the rake he was using.

Meanwhile, as the teens worked hard to remove things from the bottom of Nita Lake, Mike Duggan, the general manager of Nita Lake Lodge, was also cruising close to the shore of the lake in a canoe retrieving garbage. Two lodge employs walked the trails above the shoreline along with another volunteer.

Duggan said eight volunteers in total helped with efforts at Nita Lake and Alpha Lake.

"Our lakes, overall, were quite clean," said Duggan. "We got some things from them but for the most part I think they're now pristine."

Duggan said he found aluminum cans, two mismatched flip-flops and a running shoe. He added that he's thankful to McCarthy for launching the initiative.

Councillor André Janyk and Wayne McLeod worked together at Alpha Lake. Janyk said students at Spring Creek Elementary did a good job of cleaning up the lake near the end of their school year.

"It was actually very clean," said Janyk while she ate lunch at Nita Lake Lodge. "Wayne went around the edges in the kayak and then I walked the edges. We ended up with a very small bag."

Councillor Duane Jackson worked with a group of volunteers at Lost Lake.

By John French


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