It was hard, and sometimes dangerous work, as there were a lot of needles among the debris. (submitted)

Cleanup of garbage dumped by Cowichan River nets 1,000 needles

Spotting debris the day before, they went out Oct. 11 to clean it up. Another cleanup is scheduled

Hundreds of needles, old clothes, bedding, and other debris were taken out of the Cowichan River last week.

Sharp-eyed Duncan residents spotted a lot of garbage half submerged in the river on Wednesday, Oct. 10 and decided to organize a quick clean up for the next morning.

An energetic crew applied themselves to removing the stuff, which included the dangerous job of gathering up used needles. Members of the Warmland Sharps crew came out to help as well as a Cowichan Tribes bylaw enforcer.

They’ve organized another clean up effort for Oct. 20, from 9 a.m. to noon. Anyone interested can meet up at Serious Coffee at Boys Road and the Island Highway.

Last Thursday’s workers were widely congratulated on Facebook for taking time out for the clean up job.

Howie George, who was one of those working in the water, reported “500 plus needles” by 8:42 a.m.

By 10:30 a.m., a group of volunteers was thankfully looking at a clean bank, with a haul of more than a 1,000 needles taken off the banks and out of the river and three huge truck loads of garbage.

Emily Charlie said, “Once again, thank you to everyone that volunteered their time today. Thank you to everyone for your kind words and messages but this was a team effort. We all worked together to get this done. Made me so proud of the community. My hope is to inspire more people to come out and help. If everyone chipped in a little bit of their time, our Valley could look beautiful again! I don’t have answers or a magical solution to help the homeless, housing issues or people suffering with addictions or medical health issues but I can do this.

“We‘ve got to start somewhere. If only our community could work together we could get so much done. I will keep everyone posted on another clean up day so keep an eye out for that post.”

According to Lehanna Markets Green, “the two gentlemen from Warmland Sharps (funded by VIHA) were called away twice while the Cowichan River clean up was happening. To be clear, they were helping us rid the river bank of garbage and drug paraphernalia [but] were called away twice to two different locations and returned to help us after retrieving sharps at those locations.”

She and George also thanked Cowichan Tribes bylaw enforcement officer, Jay Seward, for helping.

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Debris left near the waterside, and swamped after recent rainfall led to a cleanup by a determined group. (submitted)

Debris left near the waterside, and swamped after recent rainfall led to a cleanup by a determined group. (submitted)

All manner of garbage from clothing to used needles was found at the site. (submitted)

By midmorning, clean up crews were reporting 500 needles collecting and counting. (submitted)

Many used needles were found at the riverside location. (submitted)

By midmorning, clean up crews were reporting 500 needles collecting and counting. (submitted)

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