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Project Details

Project dates
30/07/2023  – 30/08/2023
English Bay Beach, Beach Avenue, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Fawkes Urquhart

Project Lead

The West End Community Shoreline Cleanup was a project to pick up litter and clean English bay, following the celebration of lights festival. The project was to incorporate the local neighbourhood and community.

Project Description

My contribution to the Ocean Bridge program manifested as a shoreline cleanup initiative, focusing on the beach nearest to my apartment.

As the summer season arrived in May, my attention was drawn to the unsightly condition of English Bay after weekends. During my routine dog walks, I couldn’t help but notice the constant accumulation of litter on the beach adjacent to my residence.

Having lived in this neighborhood for nearly three years, I’ve not only established connections with my neighbors but have also been actively engaged in the local community due to my proximity to work. Sadly, as the summer heat attracted more visitors to our area, the beach began to bear the brunt of their thoughtless disposal habits.

Recognizing an opportunity for positive change, I formulated the idea of orchestrating a shoreline cleanup and involving both the community and the neighborhood. To optimize the impact of this endeavor, I strategically chose a day of peak foot traffic, right after the conclusion of the “Celebration of Lights” event.

The actual execution entailed a higher degree of administrative work than I had initially envisioned. My assumption that assembling a group of individuals for a beach cleanup would be straightforward proved slightly naive. However, leveraging my pre-existing community connections, I disseminated information about the cleanup through a variety of channels, such as posters, word of mouth, and social media.

With the intention of motivating volunteers, I procured enticing raffle prizes and secured catering services from local businesses situated in proximity to the beach. As the pieces fell into place, the event was gradually evolving into a united community endeavor. The extent of participation from diverse stakeholders heartened me.

The event was publicized in a community-focused online journal and even caught the attention of CTV news on the day of the event.

Central to the success were the volunteers who united to restore the beach’s cleanliness. While I had apprehensions about the volume of garbage we might encounter, considering the city’s evening cleanup routine, waste collectors, and even wildlife scavengers, we managed to gather a substantial 31 kg or 70 lbs of trash. This achievement showcased the dedication of the volunteers.

Remarkable individuals stepped forward, including a kindergarten teacher who routinely engages her class in neighborhood cleanup activities, a young girl who chose to celebrate her birthday by cleaning the beach, supported wholeheartedly by her mother, and other volunteers who brought their expertise and equipment. One participant even journeyed from Lithuania, later igniting a cleanup initiative in her home country.

The positive outcome of the shoreline cleanup left me profoundly moved. The community’s collective efforts not only organized an event but also kindled a spark of environmental consciousness within individuals. This success resonates as an inspiring step towards fostering awareness about the preservation of our oceans and waterways.

What was your biggest challenge?

– Coordinating the administration while holding up a full time job
– Communicating with local business to collaborate with me for my project
– Possibly being overwhelmed by the other cleaning efforts on the same day

What was your most valuable takeaway?

– Lots of people are willing to help for a good cause if the opportunity is present
– There is always plenty of cleaning to do
– Positive action is infectious

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