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Cleaning Lake Country one piece of litter at a time

Heather Irvine hard at work cleaning up litter in Lake Country.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Heather Irvine
December 28, 2018 - 3:30 PM

LAKE COUNTRY - When Heather Irvine wakes up in the morning she grabs her trash picker and a collection of 80s music, and hits the road. She picks one of several pre-set routes in her neighbourhood and starts walking. Her journey takes her to the Turtle Bay Crossing mall in Oyama to the Beaver Lake Road area and everything in between.

"My FitBit averages eight to 10 miles a day," she said.

As Irvine walks through her routes, she keeps her eyes peeled for stray trash and litter. When she notices an errant wrapper or tossed-away apple, she scoops it up with her picker and tosses it into a garbage bag. She scours the roads and streets for forgotten junk and hidden waste. She's a one-woman cleaning crew.

Irvine is a volunteer street cleaner. She's been disposing of litter in Lake Country for years in an effort to keep her neighbourhood clean and presentable.

"It's fun," she said. "I enjoy doing it."

Irvine's biggest pet peeve is litter. She loves the natural beauty of Lake Country and hates to see it tarnished by inconsiderate garbage.

"We live in such a beautiful area," she said. "Some people take it for granted and throw out food wrappers. It's just terrible."

Four years ago, Irvine noticed growing piles of trash in Lake Country. She started walking along her street and collecting litter and junk in her neighbourhood. She began widening her route to different areas. Before long, she'd created several routes that wind through most of Lake Country.

"It's become a compulsion for me," she said.

Irvine tries to sweep through Lake Country four-to-five times a week. Certain routes can take hours to complete. Irvine struggles with back pain, but she soldiers on to make sure she finishes her route for the day.

"When you've got a disability, it's best to keep going," she said.

Irvine hopes people will join her pickup routine in the future. She plans to work with members of Scouts Canada this spring to clean up Lake Country.

"We have a responsibility to make sure we're doing the right thing with our litter," she said. "I would like to see everyone be part of the solution."

Irvine wants Lake Country to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to trash on the streets.

"Get it before it becomes litter," she said.

In the meantime, Irvine plans to continue patrolling Lake Country, armed with her picker and 80s music, keeping the community clean one wrapper at a time.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Sean Mott or call (250) 864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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