Local teams are forming in communities across the Sooke region as residents enter into a friendly competition on Saturday, April 14 that will ensure the area is truly spic-and-span prior to the Sooke Region Earth Day Celebration the following weekend.
Organizers are inviting teams of one or more people to register to clean up sections of where they live—big or small, beach or park, highway or byway, even private garages and backyards, it’s entirely up to the person or people involved. Teams can get busy anytime on April 14 and continue as long as they like.
When complete, participants are asked to take a fun photo of themselves alongside their haul, then submit it with a final registration form. Prizes in a wide variety of categories will be awarded at the Planet Earth Party set for the Sooke Community Hall on Earth Day itself, Sunday, April 22. The day-long celebration will involve an exhibition, Repair Cafe, vendors, family activities, up-cycled fashion show, evening dance, zero-waste food trucks and more. It is presented by Transition Sooke and its working group Zero Waste Sooke in association with the Sooke Fall Fair Association and Creatively United for the Planet Society.
Ideally, clean-up crews will be in action across the region on April 14—Scia’new First Nation, East Sooke, District of Sooke, T’Sou-ke First Nation, Otter Point, Shirley, Jordan River, Port Renfrew and the Pacheedaht First Nation included. Teams are already coming together, and there is no limit to the number of teams that can be involved across the region.
Registration is free of charge. Bins for garbage, recycling and metal will be provided in each community and teams will be supplied with gloves and bags. (A few grabbers are also available, however it’s easy to create one by hammering a large finishing nail into a pole.)
Roadside litter aside, the Sooke region has a major problem with illegal dumping. “I recently picked up and sorted through one small bush garbage dumping” says Earth Day event coordinator Marlene Barry. “It contained 26 batteries, sewing needles, diabetic test strips, and a bag of old medicines and creams. All of that is considered hazardous waste. Actual garbage consisted of about two gallons, the rest was reusable or recyclable.”
Barry managed to find ID in the trash and contacted the CRD Bylaw Officer, who is now pursuing the matter. The big challenge is that unless you see someone dumping, or the person admits that it their stuff, it is hard to make a charge stick. “We need to change that somehow.” states Barry.
The CRD Community Cleanup Assistance Program is covering disposal fees, while other costs are paid by the event’s growing list of sponors. The District of Sooke is the official sponsor and major funder for the Sooke Region Earth Day Celebration. Chantell Line from Sooke’s Call 4 Delivery this week donated $500 towards the purchase of competition prizes.
“In order to make things fair to all communities, big and small, we are creating a formula to balance the scales and ensure everyone’s recognized for their efforts,” says Wendy O’Connor, clean-up coordinator for Zero Waste Sooke. “Ratings will be based on a variety of factors: the size of a single team, the number of teams in a community, the distance or area of road, forest or beachfront covered, even the number of kilometers a team drives into the bush to track down a dumpsite. We haven’t worked out the full details yet, but we’ll have all kinds of fun prizes to distribute at the Community Hall on April 22.”
Adds Barry: “Someone asked me the other day, ‘You don’t want stuff out of people’s yards, do you?’ My response was yes! We would rather have them get rid of it free (to them) than have it laying around leaching into the soil or dumped in the bush. Make it worth our while! Let’s dream big and clean up the whole Sooke Region in one go.”
To register or learn more, contact Wendy O’Connor by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (250) 361-6965.
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