Volunteers clean up Red Deer River

Within a matter of minutes Sheldon Nadeau had found a discarded mountain bike on the banks of Red Deer River Sunday.

After having hoisted this bike out of the Red Deer River

Within a matter of minutes Sheldon Nadeau had found a discarded mountain bike on the banks of Red Deer River Sunday.

Working with another group of volunteers Nadeau was in a party of about six people cleaning the bank under the 67th Street Bridge.

The Red Deer resident was working his first river clean-up project and said he wasn’t surprised to find the bike which appeared to have been vandalized by someone then tossed near the water’s edge from either the walkway overhead or the nearby road.

“Plastic garbage seems to be quite a nuisance because it floats easily in the water and doesn’t seem to break down,” Nadeau said shortly after climbing the bank to deposit the smashed bike near a guard rail on the sidewalk.

Nadeau and his group had just started their cleanup portion when the bike was discovered.

Nadeau said he got interested in the project through his wife Kaisa who works for Nova Chemicals which is a cleanup sponsor.

More than 70 people divided into groups to tackle the annual bank scouring project which was also part of the Green Deer campaign.

After meeting at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre for instructions the groups set off for between two to three hours of work.

Nadeau said living near the river gives him a sense of the need to preserve the water body.

“For us it’s important to have the natural setting of the river clean and enjoyable for all the residents of Red Deer,” he said.

Ashling Amato said she was immediately struck by the amount of cigarette butts littering the embankments.

“They’re so little and they don’t break down,” she said referring to the filters.

Amato, a graduate student from an ecosystem management program in forestry at an Ontario post secondary institute, said she joined the cleaning crew because of her love for the water.

“I believe that the water is the one physical thing that truly connects us all.

“No matter what our differences are no matter where we’re from we all need water and the river is a beautiful source.

“It’s important to respect and honour it,” she said.

Janet Sanderson said it was important for her to help because the river is the major source of water for not only Red Deer but several other communities now since a regional water line was finished a few years ago.

“It’s really painful to see how much people simply don’t care for our environment.

“They throw away all this garbage and dump it near the one thing that’s really important to all of us including them.

“Where would they be if we didn’t have clean, healthy water?”

Sanderson said a simple effort to recycle much of the garbage tossed onto the banks and into the river would surely prolong the Red Deer River’s life.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com

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