Jared Pilon, left, seven-year-old Ryker Pilon and Sheena Pilon participated in the Red Deer River Cleanup Saturday. They helped cleanup the Three Mile Bend area. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Jared Pilon, left, seven-year-old Ryker Pilon and Sheena Pilon participated in the Red Deer River Cleanup Saturday. They helped cleanup the Three Mile Bend area. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)

Residents participate in Red Deer River Cleanup

More than 200 people participated in this year’s Red Deer River Cleanup over the weekend.

The 2021 cleanup, which encouraged Red Deerians to pick up litter along the Red Deer River, creeks and shorelines, was “quite different” compared to previous years due to COVID-19, said Alice Koning, Kerrywood Nature Centre community outreach co-ordinator.

“Normally this is a drop-in event and everyone meets at the Kerrywood Nature Centre. But with pre-registration, we were able to spread people out throughout the city and stagger their start times to make sure we aren’t having (a large) gathering,” said Koning.

“We’re keeping people to just their own household or groups under 10, and staying masked. With us being able to have these meeting points all over the city, we’re hitting pretty much the entire length of the Red Deer River, as well as a lot of Waskasoo and Piper Creek. I’m really hopeful this will be one of our biggest years ever in terms of coverage.”

Covering more ground with the cleanup is important because the waterways are connected, Koning said.

“Once that water and any litter hits the Red Deer River, it’s hard to catch it from there,” she said.

“We have some wonderful kayakers and canoeists who do pick up litter, which is amazing, but the majority of us aren’t doing that sort of work. Once the litter is in the Red Deer River, it’s on its way to Hudson Bay. It’s going through countless other communities and affecting the people who live there, as well as the wildlife that’s using the entire corridor.”

All pre-registered volunteers who picked up litter were entered into a prize raffle. More than $1,300 in prizes will be awarded, including rain barrels, family backyard activity packs and gift certificates.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup will be held Sept. 18. This is a similar event that will give Red Deerians another chance to help keep the river, parks and trails clean. There will be prizes for that event as well.

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