Editorial: Dream team of cleaners

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Salt Spring Islanders expressed sparkling community spirit in recent weeks by stepping up to clean up the island they love.

Activity culminated on Earth Day weekend, with a small army of volunteers toiling to remove a few years’ worth of dirt and weeds from Ganges village streets, and others hitting the shoreline of Ganges Harbour to clear up garbage of all kinds.

Generous contributions from local businesses and the Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce facilitated all aspects of the activities, and volunteer labour was of course the essential cog in the whole operation. Despite the potentially odious nature of the task, participants were smiling and clearly having fun while hard at work. With so many people enjoying the exercise, the outcome and the community building that resulted, it’s tempting to make it an annual event.

Meanwhile, the Driftwood’s Greening Salt Spring campaign had mobilized individuals and community and school groups to remove garbage from roadsides and ditches across the island in the past three weeks. Two schools also included beach areas in their efforts: Fernwood Elementary School tackled Fernwood Beach, and Salt Spring Elementary joined the Ganges Harbour clean-up effort.

Plastic in various states of decay appeared to be the material most in evidence everywhere, which illustrates that the push to reduce single-use plastic bags and containers is being made with good reason.

We send hearty kudos to everyone who participated in our campaign, those who already clean up island byways and beaches, and everyone who has committed to continuing to look after their corner of the rock.

One area of island cleaning that cannot realistically be done by volunteers on a regular basis is the sweeping of our roads and streets. While it’s always difficult to pinpoint who might be responsible for making such an activity happen, it’s a service our roads contractor should be providing at least once a year. Perhaps we could task the Salt Spring Island Transportation Commission with being the watchdog on the road-sweeping file.

The island cleanup campaigns proved that volunteer effort can definitely get things done, but a bit of help from government doesn’t hurt sometimes.

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