Nine years of trash talking, Elgear set to clean up Coquitlam River again
After nine years of slogging through the bushes to pick up trash along the Coquitlam River, Garry Elgear is looking forward to his 10th river clean-up.
He’s also looking for help — and promises there will be prizes.
The owner of Riverside Fly and Tackle in Port Coquitlam has numerous gifts for volunteers who turn out Sunday. Feb. 5 for the annual event that turns the river shoreline from a dump to a pristine natural wonder.
“I have a whole bunch of prizes. We take everybody’s name and do a big draw at the end. The suppliers have really stepped up,” said Elgear, noting that one of the bigger prizes will be a custom-built fly rod worth more than $400. The day before the event, on Feb. 4, he’ll be giving away a spey clave for steelhead fishing and lessons.
But giving away prizes is not the only high point of the annual river clean-up. Every year about 60 people, many fly fishing enthusiasts like himself, turn out in all kinds of weather to pick up the detritus left behind by dog-walkers, homeless people, and others.
Elgear says over the years the river clean up has turned up tonnes of junk, including discarded sleeping bags, clothing, equipment, household items and dog poop bags. But what really frustrates him is the amount of trash left behind by fishermen.
“People with unethical fishing practices are disposing of their garbage,” said Elgear, who said he finds worm cans, fishing line and illegal treble hooks that aren’t allowed on moving water in B.C.
In recent years, the garbage haul has included discarded needles but Elgear said each volunteer team will have a river guardian to guide them who will have a proper container and will know how to properly dispose of the needles.
The cities of Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam are supplying the materials but Elgear reminds volunteers to dress for inclement weather. Waders aren’t needed because nobody is supposed to go into the water, he said.
Elgear said the clean-up is a positive story for the river which is typically on the list of B.C.’s most endangered rivers.
“Basically what we’re trying to do is educate people that the Coquitlam River is not a garbage dump.”
• To help out, meet at Riverside Fly and Tackle at 2847 Shaughnessy St., Port Coquitlam at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5. Bring a pair of gloves and dress appropriately for the weather. The clean up will extend from the Red Bridge to the upper reaches of the Coquitlam River and volunteers will go out in teams of six to eight. Equipment will be provided. The clean up runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.