‘Couldn’t believe there was so much garbage’: Volunteers clean up threat to Cowichan River

'Couldn't believe there was so much garbage': Volunteers clean up threat to Cowichan River

A mess along the Cowichan River was so big that Peter Williams, a volunteer with the Cowichan Valley Clean-up Effort, first didn’t believe the description.

“We actually couldn’t believe there was so much garbage in one place,” Williams told CHEK News on Saturday.

That is, until he saw it with his own eyes. Several tonnes of garbage from an abandoned homeless camp were found laying in piles behind Allenby Road near the banks of the Cowichan River.

So volunteers – who want to protect the river that’s faced record droughts, declining salmon stocks and in 2024, and has just 41 per cent of normal snowpack to see it through summer – came together Saturday as the Cowichan Valley Clean Up Effort.

“This is probably the biggest one we’ve ever seen, this is the biggest mess we’ve found on the river,” said Lehanna Green, an organizer and volunteer for the Cowichan Valley Clean Up Effort.

Watch the full story below:

Truckloads of garbage were pulled out of the site Saturday. Everything from batteries, to needles, garbage, and clothing that young fish could become trapped in if the debris fell into the threatened Cowichan River.

“It can just contaminate the whole river system and all the fish spawning,” said Williams.

Tammy Davies is the owner of the neighbouring Van Isles Cowichan RV Park and Campground, and told CHEK News that the homeless camp has been a growing concern, so it was a relief to see it cleared out.

“It just kept growing and growing and growing. We could hear trees getting cut down, we could see smoke. It was just constant devastation of the land,” said Davies.

“And this river has huge cultural significance, so we’d like to see it protected. We’d like to do all we can do,” said Green.

“If there was a fire here, it would just spread and spread and spread along the river bank,” added Williams.

When the day’s work was through, the difference was dramatic. The ground once buried under garbage clear of debris, scraped clean.

“You actually feel good at the end of the day, that you actually helped somebody and made a difference,” said Williams.

An environmental threat to the Cowichan River was replaced with the community coming together to help it thrive.


Skye RyanSkye Ryan

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!