Taking out the trash

Group of divers cleaning up lakes in Sea to Sky, Lower Mainland

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water Henry Wang and his group of divers have a message - there's trash in Sea to Sky Corridor lakes.

Lots of trash.

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Wang and a group of B.C. divers have taken on the task of cleaning out lakes in the Lower Mainland and the Sea to Sky Corridor and the findings are significant and a little alarming.

The group, known as Divers For Cleaner Lakes and Oceans (DFCLO), cleaned up a portion of Alice Lake on Jan. 2 and hauled out more than 40 pounds of garbage.

"We've done half of one of the swimming areas and that yielded about 41.6 pounds of garbage," Wang said. "We still have the other half to do and the other beach, but we've found a decent amount of garbage. There's probably a couple hundred pounds of garbage to be pulled out."

Wang said his group found a lot of Frisbees, children's toys, masks and snorkels. He said each lake is pretty unique with "party" lakes like Brohm and Cat having far more empty bottles and discarded cans.

He said the idea for putting the group together came about after he sold his diving business in September and he and some friends did some diving at Buntzen Lake, north of Port Moody.

"We didn't realize how much garbage there was at that lake and decided to clean it up," he said. "Once we cleaned one, we decided to clean another and sure enough, every lake we've encountered has been full of garbage. We really want to clean them to minimize the damage we're doing to these beautiful bodies of water."

Wang said the group wants to raise awareness and also secure funding to help it continue its lake-cleaning mission.

"These lakes aren't as pristine as most people think, unfortunately," he said. "The parks have no budget for this and are worried about liability, so they really appreciate our volunteer work. I think it's something that we could always go back to these lakes again at the end of the summer and do clean ups a few times a year."

He said he hopes to eventually make the group a non-profit registered society and hopes Squamish residents can help out a little by donating to the organization's fundraising page.

"It can be costly because we need a trailer and there are some lakes that don't have a management office to help us get rid of the waste, like Cat Lake, so we have to transport it elsewhere," he said. "But it's been a lot of fun for us. We've been cleaning every week as time allows and we'd like to make it grow."

DFCLO will return to Buntzen on Jan. 9 and the following week clean up Rice Lake in North Vancouver. The group plans to clean up Brohm Lake at the beginning of March and hopes for a big cleanup at Cat Lake with the Capilano Scouts in February or early March.

Wang said he's also looking for divers or other volunteers to help out with tasks on cleanup day. Anyone interested can contact him at northshorehenry@gmail.com.

Those who wish to donate directly to the cause can do so by visiting www.youcaring.com/cleanlakes.

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