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From streets to river, cleanup crews are out in force

A citizen-led group, along with crews from the ASK Wellness Society, have chosen to do some spring cleaning in Kamloops.

Expect to see the streets of Kamloops looking a little tidier this month as a citizen-led group tackled garbage along the riverfront between Riverside Park and Overlanders Bridge (in photo above), while a social agency continues its month-long effort to clean up streets.

On Monday, May 3, the ASK Wellness Society launched its 20 Streets in 20 Days campaign, an initiative that has the non-profit group and its clients picking up garbage along different city streets nearly every weekday this month.

The campaign is an extension of ASK’s Health Navigation Cleanup Crew that picks up garbage from problem spots on Fridays, but the 20-in-20 aspect was inspired by a news story out of Ottawa, ASK Wellness communications manager Michael McDonald told KTW.

Each weekday, a group of five or six participants will spend an hour, dressed in hi-vis safety vests with garbage bags and picking thongs, collecting trash from a section of a road in need of care. McDonald said crews are also equipped with sharps containers to pick up any materials they may find. They will also venture to clean beachside encampments if they are in those areas — giving them an opportunity to connect homeless individuals with their other services.

ASK Wellness cleanup
This ASK Wellness Society crew was busy cleaning up Lorne Street downtown on May 5, 2021. - ASK Wellness

Mission Flats Road was the target on Thursday — day four of 20 — following cleanups along Ord Road (Monday) Hillside Court (Tuesday) and Lorne Street (Wednesday).

Over the course of those first three days, crews collected about nine bags of garbage and a few pieces of metal and other objects, McDonald said.

So far, the strangest item crews have cleaned up was an entire desk that was smashed along the side of Ord Road.

“There’s been a shocking and disturbing amount of [face] masks,” McDonald added.

On Friday, May 7, a crew will target St. Paul Street downtown and at some point next week, it will tackle Tranquille Road in North Kamloops.

McDonald said those taking part in the campaign wanted to give back to the community and help beautify the city during the spring weather.

“I’ve enjoyed getting to connect with some of my co-workers that I haven’t been able to see much of [due to the pandemic] and I know for the participants, getting out there and having a part of the cleanup of their community has given them a lot of pride, as well,” McDonald said.

He noted one Good Samaritan brought cookies to Wednesday’s cleanup crew, which made the volunteers feel even better about the work they are doing.

McDonald said they are also thankful to the City of Kamloops, which has waived dumping fees for their groups when disposing of garbage.

Members of the public have asked to join, but due to COVID-19 social distancing protocols, the initiative is being kept in-house. However, if the campaign is held again next year, ASK Wellness would like to open it up to members of the public, McDonald said.

While ASK has some streets lined up, the agency is still taking suggestions from the public on which roads to target next. If you have a suggestion, contact ASK Wellness via its Facebook page.