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Beach-cleaning plan to be developed in Kamloops

Think of it as a less urban version of the adopt-a-road programs
Cynthia James (left) and Heather Dumaresq were among the dozen or so volunteers to clean up the beach from Riverside Park to Overlander Bridge in May 2021. The group organized and met online in a Facebook group called Save our Shores. The city wants to help expand such cleanup initiatives.

Kamloops council has asked staff to create the framework for a city-wide, beach-cleaning program.

Staff will draft a report outlining how the municipality can facilitate a community beach cleanup with neighbourhood associations and develop a subsequent beach-cleaning program similar to the well-known Adopt-A-Road.

The idea came from a notice of motion from Coun. Mike O’Reilly, who told his fellow council members during Tuesday’s meeting (Sept. 12) that Kamloops residents have told him they are interested in cleaning up beaches and waterways, which can often be a difficult task.

O’Reilly believes Fisheries and Oceans Canada will need to be involved in the program, along with community service officers (CSOs), given what O’Reilly called the “danger of certain areas.”

One of the tasks of the city’s CSOs is to clean up and dismantle homeless encampments along Kamloops riverbanks. O’Reilly told KTW the program would involve cleaning up mostly garbage, but not having members of the public cleaning any homeless encampments with the assistance of CSOs.

“There are camps spread throughout our city on the nearly 100 kilometres of waterfront we have in our community and they [encampments] can be hidden or there are certain places CSOs know to stay away from, so they’ll need to have some form of involvement for the people who want to be volunteering to make sure they’re kept safe,” O’Reilly said.

During the council meeting, O’Reilly said the extreme drought conditions and extremely low river levels offer a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to clean areas that may not again be accessible for some time.

The Thompson Rivers through Kamloops currently sit at the province’s highest drought level severity — Level 5 — meaning adverse impacts to socio-economic or ecosystem values are almost certain.

Coun. Nancy Bepple said she knows of a number of canoe and paddle clubs that are interested in engaging in such a clean-up program.

Coun. Stephen Karpuk asked how the cleanup initiative will work alongside other initiatives undertaken by various organizations.

“That’s for staff to go out and say, ‘How do we engage the most people to do this and get the most shoreline cleaned up?’” O’Reilly replied.