By far the biggest polluters of the lakeshore and in the downtown area are smokers, according to the work of youngsters who scoured the area Sunday morning during the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
They picked up 8,837 cigarettes and cigarette filters, 17 lighters, 60 cigar tips and 121 items described as tobacco packaging and wrappers.
This was the seventh year Scout and Guide groups have participated in the national cleanup at Sylvan Lake, according to organizer Bruce Schollie. This year they included members of Sylvan Lake Scouting, Sylvan Lake Sparks, Brownies and Guides, the new Eckville Guide Unit and 18th Red Deer Morrisroe Scouts.
Statistics Schollie compiled from sheets recorded by parent volunteers have been forwarded to the national organization for compiling with other participants.
Four bags of garbage were collected, weighing about 36 kilograms.
Other items collected by the youngsters and their parents and leaders were 114 paper bags, 227 plastic bags, 41 balloons, 33 plastic beverage bottles, 50 glass beverage bottles, 81 beverage cans, 273 caps or lids, 75 items of clothing or shoes, 200 cups, plates, forks, knives or spoons, 698 food wrappers or containers, 67 pull tabs, 8 six-pack holders, 196 straws and stir sticks and 71 toys.
They also found an assortment of bait and fishing tackle, plastic sheeting and tarps, rope, strapping bands, two appliances, 13 batteries, building materials, car parts, a tire, five diapers, two syringes and two tampons or applicators.
Items of local concern included 25 identified as gum, 15 bandaids and 39 styrofoam pieces.
While the shore was being cleaned by youngsters, there were 35 divers in the water off the pier combing the bottom of the lake. Participating in the Alberta Underwater Council’s ninth annual event, they were from Edmonton, Calgary, Vaughan, Leduc, Red Deer, Athabasca, Black Diamond, Paradise Hill, Sask., and Sylvan Lake.
Besides the divers, they had ten paddlers in canoes and kayaks, including Sylvan Lake Mayor Susan Samson, and 10 volunteers on shore, wrestling the garbage up to the main pier or flipping burgers for volunteers after their work was done.
“We definitely noticed less trash after nine years of concentrated efforts here at the main pier area,” said Cathie McCuaig, executive director of the underwater group.
They recovered approximately 1,000 pounds of material instead of the one-two tons brought up in past years. It consisted of mostly recyclable bottles (which mostly went to the local Scout group), approximately 20 pairs of sunglasses, a blanket, dozens of broken paddles, water toys, fish hooks and line.
Nationally, 2011 results indicated 3,144 kilometres of shoreline cleaned up during the campaign across Canada and 143,737 kilograms removed. That included 351,238 cigarette butts, 110,018 food wrappers, 71,200 plastic bags, 65,220 caps and lids and 39,308 plastic beverage bottles. The campaign this year ran from Sept. 15-23.