Whistler gears up for the second annual Great Lake Cleanup 

Last year, close to 50 volunteers scoured Whistler's major lakes for trash

FILE PHOTO - PITCHING IN Volunteers collect trash from the bottom of Alta Lake at last year's inaugural Great Lake Cleanup. The event returns Saturday, July 12.
  • File Photo
  • PITCHING IN Volunteers collect trash from the bottom of Alta Lake at last year's inaugural Great Lake Cleanup. The event returns Saturday, July 12.

When it comes to Whistler's annual Great Lake Cleanup, one man's trash is another man's, well, trash, and you should really consider helping get rid of it.

The community-wide event returns for a second time Saturday, July 12, with dozens of volunteers expected to take to some of Whistler's major lakes. Last year, close to 50 people came out, filling dozens of garbage bags and retrieving old beer cans, chunks of metal, car tires and even a broken canoe from Alpha, Alta, Nita and Lost Lakes.

"We'd like to take a run at all of the lakes this year, and especially in the heavy youth areas," said Councillor Roger McCarthy, who has spearheaded the cleanup efforts after getting numerous complaints from locals about the trash sitting at the bottom of Whistler's lakes.

"We do clean up as a community but I don' think the lakes had ever been touched (before last year), so I figured it was time," he added.

This year's volunteers can count on some additional help from a group of four to six trained divers who will make the trip from North Vancouver to pitch in. Led by scuba diver Henry Wang, the group, which will focus on Lost Lake and Alta Lake, regularly plunges into popular bodies of water in the region to rid them of garbage that's accumulated over the years.

"I've been stand-up paddling at Alta Lake pretty much every day," said Whistlerite Kimiko Taguchi, who approached Wang about the cleanup. "On a very calm and clear day, I can see a bunch of garbage at the bottom of the lake and I was upset by that. It's a beautiful place, so I wonder why people don't respect nature."

Local Eric Wight and Backroads Whistler have already lent their services, using a sonar-equipped boat to scan the deepest parts of Alta Lake in order to pinpoint any large items for divers to retrieve on July 12. Wight said they've got three positive scans so far, including an item of "significant size" that McCarthy believes could be a relic from the old days of the former Alta Lake hostel.

"(Wight's) wondering if it's an old wood stove or something that somebody dragged across the ice," McCarthy said. "It could be a car too, who knows? I think it was the year of '77 when there was no skiing (in Whistler) and the ice was really thick. People were driving their cars on the lakes."

McCarthy said he was overwhelmed by the support from the community at last year' inaugural cleanup. Overall, he said the cleanup is simply a fun day for residents, providing them a chance to give back to the community they love.

"The lakes just need a little love, and a little love every year goes a long way I think," he said.

Interested volunteers are asked to meet at Lakeside Park at 8 a.m. There will be free food, refreshments and prizes for volunteers, although Taguchi said donations are still being accepted if there are any interested businesses.

The divers traveling from North Vancouver also require accommodation the night of Friday, July 11. Email Taguchi at kimt.whistler@gmail.com if you can provide assistance.

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