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38,031 kilograms of waste removed in Campbell River shoreline clean-up

CRATO has used their funds not just for clean-up but helping the community

The Campbell River Association of Tour Operators (CRATO) has cleaned up roughly 38,031 kilograms of waste as part of their 2023/24 shoreline cleanup.

Starting in October, CRATO embarked on a cleanup of 350 kilometres of shoreline between Comox and the northern Discovery Passage, after receiving funding from the Province of B.C.’s Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative (CCCW). The initiative was started as part of the provincial government’s Pandemic Response and Economic Recovery plan during the COVID-19 crisis to help tourism operators in the province. Two types of projects are supported by the CCCW, including shoreline clean-up. The other is derelict vessel removal.

“This funding not only made a significant impact on the environment in which we work but also helped struggling tour businesses keep staff and vessels working,’ Bill Coltart, president of CRATO, told the Campbell River Mirror in December of last year.

The cleaning started in Beaver Inlet, where CRATO anchored their headquarters (a barge) off the coast. It consisted of an office, a bathroom, a crane truck, and three large shipping containers to sort garbage and clean Styrofoam.

Coltart said the barge was a practical way to stage, store and sort debris due to the isolated area CRATO was working in. They also had multiple vessels at their disposal to drop staff on the beach for cleaning up.

In total, CRARO has picked up 38,031 kilometres of waste, broken down into 12 categories: landfill, steel, Styrofoam tires, rope. tires, hard plastic floats, Styrofoam, hard plastic fragments, oyster baskets, netting, Styrofoam floats, and plastic bottles. The busiest month was November, in which they cleaned up 9,956 kilograms, including 2,692 kilograms of steel. Accumulatively, steel was the highest of any material collected between the project’s start in October and its end in late February, with about 15,411 kilograms collected. Landfill (7,856), Tires (5,009) and Styrofoam (4,109) were next.

Grants from the provincial government have allowed CRATO to inject $2 million back into Campbell River’s economy.

Additionally, CRATO has been involved in the Whale Trail landmark at Ken Forde Park, a juvenile humpback whale made of driftwood by Alex Witcombe, and has developed The Naturalist Program, approved by Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). The program has two parts, with the first focusing on general knowledge about whales and other marine life. The second part focuses on tour operating and crew training and helping students with certification in marine and aquaculture awareness. The Naturalist Program will be on CRATO’s website in May 2024.