Yep! There’s even stuff hiding in the bushes near the Cowichan River’s edge. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

COVID cancels clean up of Cowichan River

“Of course, this is no ordinary year”

The upper Cowichan River clean-up is taking a year off.

In most years, the clean-up organized by the Cowichan Lake & River Stewards takes place in late August, but things are different, to say the least, in 2020.

“Of course, this is no ordinary year,” CLRSS president Ken Traynor said in a letter to the Lake Cowichan Gazette. “It is our COVID-19 summer! Following the directions of our public health officers, CLRSS has had to cancel the upper-river clean-up for this year.”

Traynor expressed his gratitude to the hundreds of area residents who have helped out with the clean-up in previous years. There have never been fewer than 50 participants, he said. Many of them have lugged old appliances, chunks of metal and tons of garbage back the clean-up headquarters at Central Park, as well as bagloads of cans and bottles that end up going to a good cause along with donations from the community.

”Our accompanying bottle drive has allowed us to fund our stewardship work,” Traynor said. “Over the years it has been a tremendous community effort we can all be proud of.”

Traynor continued to list off the many supporters of the clean-up over the years, including dive crews “who have scoured the pools and dredged up those amazing finds from decades past,” and Cowichan Valley Search and Rescue who helped keep river cleaners safe.

The Town of Lake Cowichan and the Cowichan Valley Regional District have been big supporters over the years, and major sponsorship has come from Country Grocer, Tim Hortons, Jakes at the Lake, The Tube Shack, Home Hardware and RBC.

Traynor noted that CLRSS has had to scale back some of their activities this year, but not all of them.

“Our work in the Gerald Thom Memorial Native Plant Garden, our Gerald Thom Environmental Studies Student Bursary, our fry rescue activities, our water quality monitoring on the lake, our collaborations with the Cowichan Watershed Board and CVRD on the new weir design project and our planning for new youth oriented programs and activities for next year, are all going strong,” he said.

“Let’s hope we can all get back to the river clean-up next year. But until we do please do what you can to keep our river and lake clean and litter free. And in the spirit of Dr. Bonnie Henry please: Be kind to the river, Be calmed by the river and Be safe on the river.”

The lower Cowichan River clean-up is also cancelled this year for the same reasons as the upper river clean-up.

Lake Cowichan

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‘This river is pretty clean,’ says one diver, after checking a section by the car bridge in Lake Cowichan. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

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