A morning’s cleanup leaves town with a neater lake and shoreline

From left, divers John McCuaig and Stacy Chonica returning after a morning of diving to clean up underwater trash.
Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake NewsFrom left, divers John McCuaig and Stacy Chonica returning after a morning of diving to clean up underwater trash. Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake News
From left, John McCuaig (diver), Stacy Chonica (diver), Tom Davies and Brian Davies returning after a morning of garbage collection on the lake.
Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake NewsFrom left, John McCuaig (diver), Stacy Chonica (diver), Tom Davies and Brian Davies returning after a morning of garbage collection on the lake. Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake News
Garbage collected for the day.
Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake NewsGarbage collected for the day. Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake News
From left, Tom Davies and Brian Davies return after assisting divers in bringing the collected garbage to the shore.
Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake NewsFrom left, Tom Davies and Brian Davies return after assisting divers in bringing the collected garbage to the shore. Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake News
Sylvan Lake’s Cathy Forner holding a bag of garbage collected from the lake.
Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake NewsSylvan Lake’s Cathy Forner holding a bag of garbage collected from the lake. Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake News
Sylvan Lake resident Lori Mearns picking up garbage around the shoreline and sidewalk at Centennial Park. 
Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake News
From left, Zara Fraser, Gillian Fraser, and Vicki Hearn collecting garbage around Centennial Park.
Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake NewsFrom left, Zara Fraser, Gillian Fraser, and Vicki Hearn collecting garbage around Centennial Park. Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake News
Sylvan Lake Gulls GM Aqil Samuel picking up litter in Centennial Park.
Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake NewsSylvan Lake Gulls GM Aqil Samuel picking up litter in Centennial Park. Reeti Rohilla / Sylvan Lake News

Residents came together for a morning of Sylvan Lake’s 18th annual shoreline and lake cleanup on Sept. 19.

Initiating this event with his wife 18 years ago to get rid of littered plastic bottles, John McCuaig continued his endeavour to keep the lake clean by serving as a diver this year.

McCuaig said, “We’re finding less garbage every time. So, I guess we are catching up on it, or maybe people are being nicer.” He added, “This year we found a skateboard and stand-up paddle board paddle…probably half a dozen sunglasses, I also found a swimming trunk.”

McCuaig thanked people in kayaks and canoes for their help with bringing the collected garbage back to the shore. “We only had two divers this time, and we’ve had as many as 20 before. I don’t know, maybe because of COVID it slowed down a little bit. But it was good, it was enjoyable, the weather was great, and we found a lot of garbage,” he said.

A cleanup participant for over 15 years, and helping the divers place their garbage on his canoe for this year’s event, Tom Davies, said that the divers collected quite a lot of garbage this year. Davies, along with his brother Brian Davies, brought garbage collected by the divers to the shore, rather than having them swim all the way to drop it off.

Davies said, “We are shy on divers, but I’m sure that’s largely COVID issues. We’ve been sequestered so much for two years that social interface that promotes…isn’t quite as strong as it was. But hopefully with the weather this year, it will promote people to think about next year more enthusiastically. Because that’s been one of the problems. We’ve had times where it was pretty chilly and pretty windy, which makes it tougher.”

“Today, quiet honestly, because of the fact that it wasn’t churned up, the divers had a lot easier time seeing the material. Some years the visibility is very poor so you have to swim very close to the bottom, so you are seeing a very much narrower view of where the garbage might be. I think their (divers) efficiency was really good out there today,” said Davies.

Along with the lake cleanup, several residents also contributed their part towards making Centennial park, its sidewalks, and the shoreline free from any litter.

Lori Mearns, who would often contribute to this event in the past and helped pick up garbage on land again this year, said, “For garbage, there have been previous years where I felt like it was actually worse than it is this year. So, I’m curious to know if people have been volunteering their time, or if the manpower that the town actually was able to put in down here has made the difference, because it really isn’t as bad as I have previously experienced.”

The event also offered hot dogs and hamburgers to attendees. Davies said, “Everyone of us can participate in improving the environmental impact we have, by not getting rid of, or losing your garbage.” McCuaig reminds people of the beautiful Sylvan Lake beach that attracts several people in the summer, and a ton of garbage and broken glass could hurt them. A simple gesture of taking the garbage along could save a lot of efforts for those who contribute to the cleanup, along with positively impacting the environment.

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