May 15, 2013 - 7:22am

On May 4, 31 volunteers gave up their Saturday in order to pull on their working gloves and remove garbage from the lower slopes of Mount Benson. It was the annual CUPE Cares Day, started two years ago by VIU employee and CUPE member Rob Campbell, who was getting tired of having to look at, and sometimes dodge around, the garbage that had accumulated on his regular hiking route.

“I started to get really angry at the amount and type of garbage that was being dumped in this area,” says Campbell. “Everything from drywall to garbage bags filled with garbage to just random pieces of litter.”

CUPE has a strong community platform so Campbell approached his local and they were happy to get behind him. This year was the second annual event and Maude Mackey of the Regional District of Nanaimo got on board allowing the group to dump their garbage for free.

“We also had great support from Nanaimo Sheet Metal as they provided trucks and also staff,” says Campbell.

The volunteers spent about six hours collecting garbage and filling up the trucks. By the end of the day they’d made 13 trips to the dump and collected 2,820 kilograms of garbage plus 150 kilograms of drywall which they were able to recycle. A celebratory barbecue was held at the end to thank – and feed – the hungry volunteers.

“A shout out has to go to CUPE members Stephanie Didsbury and Owen Pearson for organizing the barbecue as well as Nelda Bonsor for running the CUPE tent during the day where we had refreshments for the volunteers,” says Campbell. “Also, Rolanda Murray helped with the tent set up and Janine Reed, VIU’s Executive Director of Human Resources, helped organize a VIU truck for the day.”

CUPE plans to return next year as by that time they’ll need to do a big clean-up again.

“The day was a bit uncomfortable,” says Reed, “as you feel pride and admiration for a small group of truly altruistic people doing something really wonderful and disappointment at the amount of garbage that continues to be dumped by others. That part of the story is quite distressing.”

In the meantime, thanks to the dedication of these CUPE members and local organizations, the Nanaimo community can enjoy their hikes on Mount Benson, litter free.

Tags: In the Community

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