Over the past year, the Peninsula Streams Society has held seven beach cleanup events but co-ordinator Brian Koval says the goal now is to educate volunteers on the natural habitat of the shores they work so hard to maintain. (Contributed/Peninsula Streams Society)

Holiday beach cleanup planned for Central Saanich shores

Island View Beach cleanup promises Santa, educational component to maintain local habitat

Cleaning up the shores of Vancouver Island is unfortunately nothing new, but with an educational aspect built in, the Peninsula Streams Society is advancing the way local residents can take care of local beaches.

Brian Koval, a biologist with the society has co-ordinated a cleanup planned for Dec. 15 at Island View Beach that will include a lesson on forage fish, a common species found on the sandy terrain there.

“There’s a lot of gaps in knowledge,” Koval says, and as a result, “we want to train residents in the community who care about their beaches and fill those information gaps.”

RELATED: Greater Victoria beach cleanup recovers 655 pounds of garbage

And, as it turns out, Santa has a little extra time to spare too, so he’ll make an appearance to help with the cleanup, the seventh such one this year, all made possible by a grant from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.

While beach cleanups can often clear a great deal of debris, Koval stresses the educational component is equally important, particularly when learning about plastics and how much of it ends up in local waters.

“Peninsula residents are really good,” he says of keeping local habitat thriving, “but the problem is a lot of garbage can wash down from creeks, especially ones with connections to highways and local parking lots.”

For those interested, the cleanup gets underway at 10 a.m. Dec. 15 and runs until noon. Participants are reminded to dress for the weather, so sturdy footwear is a must and those with equipment are encouraged to bring it, though gloves and other aids will be provided.

Because the beach is located in a CRD park, the region will take care of the removal of all material collected.

RELATED: Vancouver Island ‘ground zero’ for ocean plastics issue: Courtenay-Alberni MP

The event is bittersweet for Koval, who is always appreciative of the efforts of volunteers and happy to see unwanted garbage removed.

According to the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a website that tracks cleanup endeavours, 88,345 kilograms of litter has been cleared from 3,761 kilometres of shoreline across the country in 2,115 cleanups in just 2018 alone.

“I’ve been doing cleanups my entire career,” Koval says. “I’m looking forward to the day that it’s just not necessary anymore.”

The Peninsula Streams Society is a non-profit focused on stream restoration and habitat conservation on the Saanich Peninsula to support self-sustaining populations of native species in both freshwater and marine environments.

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