Whether it’s a tall fishing tale, summer days on a sandy beach, or the power behind the flip of a light switch, the City of Trail and its people are intrinsically connected to the river that runs through it.
Since 2003, BC Rivers Day has been recognized in the Silver City the last Sunday in September, to celebrate the value of the Columbia River to West Kootenay culture.
In 2008, the event shifted goals from festivities at Gyro Park involving dozens of community groups manning displays and demonstrations about the river, to actual cleanup of the banks of the Columbia around Trail.
This year, it became a case of sink or swim for the annual day after long time organizers at the Skills Centre pulled out of planning the event in April.
Welcome news for Basin residents is that BC Rivers Day is set to go Sept. 29, after the city stepped up to man the helm and keep the 10-year local tradition alive.
“The Columbia River plays an integral part of our being in the city,” said Coun. Eleanor Gattafoni-Robinson. “And it is incumbent to Trail residents to keep it clean and protect our ecosystems.”
The city has decided on a new venue, Jubilee Park, to encourage the community to gather and enjoy the downtown area on the Esplanade while re-connecting with the river.
“For me, Jubilee Park has really come into its own,” said Gattafoni-Robinson.“It’s a beautiful place to sit and watch the Columbia River go by. It’s a wonderful thing.”
Volunteers are asked to meet at Jubilee Park that morning at 9 a.m. for registration, followed by a walk up the banks of the river for clean-up between 9:30 a.m. and noon.
“We are encouraging teams,” said Andrea Jolly, Trail’s communication and events coordinator. “But anyone who wants to pitch in last minute or on the day is welcome.”
Embracing youth in the clean-up is a vital aspect to BC Rivers Day in Greater Trail, and this year, a dozen members from the 531 Trail Air Cadet program are committed to sweeping the shoreline of debris.
“I believe that everyone who is part of this wonderful community should give a helping hand in cleaning up,” said Trail Air Cadet, Sergeant Patrick Hossack. “Being an air cadet has taught me not to just sit around and let things get done by others, but to help and give back to everyone in the area.”
Teams will be assigned an area of the shoreline that spans a 1.5-kilometre stretch from Gyro Park to Casino Beach.
By enlisting help from community partners including the 44th Field Engineers and Teck, shoreline clean up has removed over 112,000 pounds of garbage and debris from the banks of the river.
Historically, most of the trash removed from the river came from car bodies, water tanks and other large metal waste.
“If you have a truck that can haul waste to the landfill, we would love that contribution,” said Jolly, adding, “we will direct you through the land fill so the tipping fees are waived.”
The city will provide disposable gloves and garbage bags and requests volunteers to wear durable shoes.
“River Day clean up is an important community service,” said Flight Corporal Nicholas Notari, two-year member of the Trail Air Cadet program. “We need to clean up our river and beach area so that it can be safe for everyone to enjoy.”
Clean-up will be followed by the Local 480 Steelworkers flipping free burgers and a draw for prizes donated by local businesses.
For information, contact Jolly at 364-0834 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
BC Rivers Day was established in 1980 by the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. to encourage improved stewardship of rivers and waterways. The province-wide event seeks to raise public understanding of rivers and the many benefits they provide us, such as clean water, spawning salmon, historic trade and exploration routes.