Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre launches his kayak into the lake during the Underwater Cleanup on Sept. 20. Paddlers in canoes and kayaks helped to gather the garbage in the lake, and return it to the shore. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Small force of locals team up for Sylvan Lake Underwater Cleanup

The annual cleanup was focused on getting an much garbage out of the lake as possible

The lake is a little cleaner thanks to the efforts of the Alberta Underwater Council and a few local volunteers.

On Sept. 20 divers, paddlers and a few shoreline volunteers gathered at the pier in Sylvan Lake Park to begin the annual Underwater Cleanup.

This year the force of volunteers was small, consisting of 6 divers three or four paddlers and a handful of volunteers along the shoreline.

Volunteers for the annual cleanup where limited due to gathering restrictions in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre said those who were unable to come out shouldn’t feel bad about missing the cleanup.

“I don’t want anyone to feel guilty about not coming out or not knowing about it, because we didn’t advertise it,” said McIntyre.

“Normally when we advertise we get a whole whack of people who come out to help, which is great, but we weren’t able to do that this time.”

Instead of having volunteers spread out over land and water, the cleanup was focused on clearing the lake of as much garbage as possible.

The Alberta Underwater Council organized the event and divers, as they do every year, but this year the Town of Sylvan Lake was not as involved, which was done to keep the numbers low.

“The Alberta Underwater Council organizes this cleanup every year, and many more at lakes around the province. We are very fortunate to have Sylvan Lake be one of their regular cleanups,” said McIntyre.

The lake was choppy on Sunday do to the windy conditions, this led to reduced visibility for the divers, and a smaller haul being brought out of the lake.

The divers pulled up a nerf gun, a blackberry cell phone, binoculars, underwear and most of a skateboard. This was on top of the usual bits like beverage containers, fishing line, hooks and lures, hockey pucks, golf balls, cigarette butts and bread ties.

“I am so grateful for everyone who comes out every year to keep the lake clean and healthy. Every little bit helps,” said McIntyre.

Tim Hortons donated hot drinks and to the volunteers, and the Sylvan Lake Rotary Club kept the area clean and safe by handing out the food and beverages.

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Scott McDermott and his dive partner Stephen wade into the lake backwards, so they wouldn’t trip over their fins. The Underwater Cleanup on Sept. 20 had six divers in the lake collecting as much trash as possible to keep the lake clean and healthy. Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

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