Divers haul over 63 kg of trash from Burrard Inlet near The Shipyards

When divers went below the surface of Burrard Inlet at Lonsdale Quay last week, they were a little surprised at what they found.

For the first time on May 13th, Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans volunteers prepared for the water around St. Roch Dock, the smaller dock near the Burrard Dry Dock, to see what might be resting on the ocean floor .

Known as the guardian angels of BC’s popular lakes and beaches, the diving team spends their underwater free time collecting everyone else’s forgotten trash.

Henry Wang of Lynn Valley, one of the divers who inspired the organization, said the team was always happy to pick high-traffic spots to clean up and not be under the dock before deciding to do it after getting permission from. to check out the city of North Vancouver.

It turned out to be a “successful day” with the team picking up 63.5 kilograms of rubbish. On the positive side, Wang said the amount of trash collected was much less than he expected and different from what he usually hauls in from party lake destinations.

“I was expecting beer bottles or beer cans, but we didn’t get any,” he said, adding that there were a few other types of plastic and glass bottles, but nothing like what you’d find on party lakes.

The team also discovered other random items, including an old fire extinguisher, laptop and hard drive, crab trap, safety cones, and a shopping cart.

“We found a lot of things that people have thrown in over the years,” said Wang. “But there was actually a lot of industrial waste and things that had been there for a very long time. Until some of the industrial waste has become a habitat for marine life. So we can’t really take these out because now living beings live in it and grow on it. ”

He said it was a fascinating experience as it wasn’t a normal dive site due to the difficult access and safety concerns, but her team had many protocols to make this possible.

“The amount of marine life down there was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it here on site, ”said Wang.

That day, the team was only able to clean up one side of the dock, but Wang said they identified trash on the other side, only to eventually return and explore more of the area, including checking what was below the Lonsdale Q mark .

Stephanie Smiley, acting communications manager for the city of North Vancouver, said this is the first time the city has hosted such an ocean cleanup, but she has regularly partnered with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup for events.

“We were excited to welcome divers for cleaner lakes and oceans to the St. Roch Dock,” she said.

“With so many waterways across the city, there are many opportunities for litter and pollutants to get into these sensitive areas. It is up to all of us to do our part to protect our waterways and to protect our natural environment. ”

The team has around 28 diving areas, lakes and ocean spots on its regular clean-up route, but is always happy to receive suggestions.

On the north coast, the group also cleans up Rice Lake and Deep Cove annually, but Wang said the areas are pretty tame when it comes to the amounts of trash found, compared to Cat Lake in Squamish and Cultus Lake in Fraser Valley – notorious for summer parties .

Wang said the organization started by chance in 2013 when he and friend Jonathan Martin were diving at Buntzen Lake in Port Moody and discovered an enormous amount of trash at the bottom of the lake that they just “wanted to pick up.”

It was quite a mission for the duo to clean up the lake, and they returned with a few more divers to help them out and ended up hauling over 1,700 pounds of trash from one lake.

Conquering Lake Buntzen sparked inspiration to clean up other lakes, and the organization grew from there.

In the past eight years, they have done 133 cleaning dives and collected a whopping 16,329.3 kg of trash.

To this day, Wang said, it still amazes him that people don’t always follow the pack while enjoying the province’s beautiful lakes and beaches. “The interesting thing about the garbage in the lakes is that it is literally out of sight and out of your mind,” said Wang. “So, I think the people who make trash don’t think about anything because it goes away. But when I go down I see all the stuff that people threw away. When I bring it up, people are appalled because they weren’t aware of it. ”

He said the hope is that through their cleanup, they could help raise awareness and educate people to do the right thing next time.

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The avid diver said while it was overwhelming to think about the amount of trash floating in marine areas, he was glad he could do his part to keep the environment clean.

“When I dive in a lake and see a bit of trash, it pales in comparison to what’s out there,” he said.

“But I can do something about it because it’s right in front of me.”

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