BAY OF ISLANDS—The Love Your Bay shoreline cleanup currently underway in the Bay of Islands is a perfect example of what can be accomplished when a group of determined people get together to help preserve something they love.

“It is going very well,” said Celesta Bjornson. “I am really proud of our community.”

It’s rather difficult to pin down an actual number of how many people are participating in the Love Your Bay event, but anecdotally it is pretty impressive. “Most of our bay is taking part in it,” said Ms. Bjornson. “I can’t say for sure, 70, 80, 100 people? Almost every island has people taking part.”

Before the effort got underway, a community barbecue was held. “We had a big barbecue and and a meeting with a large map,” said Ms. Bjornson. “Everyone highlighted where they were committing to clean-up so we didn’t have a duplication of effort.”

The Love Your Bay cleanup was made possible through a grant from the Great Lakes Guardian Trust. “The grant from the Trust is sure being put to good use,” said Ward 1 Councillor Laurie Cook. “Many thanks to Dave Williamson for suggesting that NEMI apply for it on behalf of Ward 1.”

The funds have provided for the steady flow of debris pouring into the bins stationed at the landing to be hauled away for disposal at the landfill. “We have emptied a bin just about every day,” said Ms. Bjornson.

As part of the effort a number of contests are being held. “We have a prize for the most collected by volume, the best item suitable to be repurposed or reused and another for the most bizarre thing found,” she said. What was the most bizarre thing found so far? “That had to be a melted outhouse,” said Ms. Bjornson ruefully. “It was all melted from being in a fire, including a grate.”

“This all really started out with a group of us out kayaking,” said Sheile Williams, who is co-ordinating the effort with Ms. Bjornson. Both are members of the Bay of Islands Community Association (BICA). “We said to ourselves ‘isn’t it terrible to see what people throw away or just hide along the shoreline?’ There are discarded docks, all kinds of stryrofoam, oil drums from back in the day that people have just hidden on the shore.”

In fact, the BICA members have discovered and dismantled six abandoned docks that have drifted into the bay. “We have another two to deal with yet,” said Ms. Williams.

As for the most re-purposable/reusable item found to date? “That has to be the big black dock floats that we found,” said Ms. Bjornson.

The Love Your Bay effort has a true international flavour to it due to the number of Americans who call the Bay of Islands home during the summer. That dichotomy is reflected in how the BICA acronym is said. “Americans pronounce it ‘bike-a’ and Canadians say ‘beek-a’,” laughed Ms. Williams.

“The amount of styrofoam being cleaned up off the shorelines and rocks is just amazing,” said Ms. Cook, who was out helping with the cleanup efforts along with her partner John McHarg. “The metal oil drums and the old rusty junk will be picked up by a salvage company. Great job all around.”