Rivers Day seeks new champion in the Home of Champions

Trail's Skills Centre is looking for another organization to take up the reigns of the annual BC Rivers Day Celebration.

The Skills Centre, a local organization that has spearheaded the BC Rivers Day celebration in Trail, is surrendering the reigns and is hoping there is another group willing to take over the coordination.

The event included the annual shoreline cleanup of the Columbia River and wind up celebration afterwards at Gyro Park.

“Just given everything we have on our plates right now we can’t carry on coordinating this,” said Carol Corbett, manager of Employment Services at the Skills Centre. “We’re really busy with a number of different contracts, some are quite demanding on staff time and resources and it doesn’t leave us the space and time to continue.”

Enlisting the help of community partners the 44th Field Engineers, Teck, and the City of Trail, since 2008 the annual shoreline cleanup has removed over 112,000 pounds of garbage and debris from the banks of the river around Trail.

“There’s still more clean up to be done,” said Corbett. “There are still old car wrecks and scrap metal along the river and there are still people who seem to think it’s ok to dump their garbage over the banks so it has to be an annual thing.

“We’ve had great support from Fortis and Kootenay Savings who have contributed corporate teams to help out, as well as financial assistance from them and other organizations like the Columbia Basin Trust.

“What we’re hoping is that another community champion steps up to take over the coordination and organizing for the event. We’ll help as much as we can to provide the resources necessary to be successful including contacts with the organizations that have contributed finances and labour to the cleanup.

We’ve got an amazing and beautiful resource right at our doorstep and we really hope somebody is willing to keep this event going into the future.”

Although there has been a BC Rivers Day recognized in various areas of the province since 1980 there wasn’t any local acknowledgement of the event, held annually on the last Sunday in September. The Skills Centre became involved in 2003 after a staff member returned from a vacation in the Caribou region of the province and described the activities held there.

“We got into the venture after talking about it and realized the Columbia River was an asset for the community,” said Corbett. “Not just an economic resource but for our lifestyles and environment as well.”

The event grew from a relatively small gathering in Gyro Park to a diverse celebration involving dozens of community groups and businesses that centred on the river manning displays and demonstrations.

In 2008 the organization shifted the goals of the celebration concentrating more on the actual cleanup of the banks of the Columbia around Trail.

“In 2007 we had Chris Swain as a guest at Rivers Day,” said Corbett. “After that we kicked up more of the environmental focus.”

Swain is the American environmental activist who swam the length of the Columbia in 2002 to draw attention to environmental threats to the river.

Anyone interested in more information on the BC Rivers Day event in our area can contact Corbett or Skills Centre Executive Director, Jan Morton at (250) 368-6360.

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