RDOS offers support to community clean up of submerged sandbags at Antler's Beach

FILE PHOTO: A portion of Highway 97 near Peachland was almost closed during a windstorm in June that toppled concrete barricades and pulled hundreds of sandbags away from shore.

PEACHLAND – Local governments are applauding the efforts of a Summerland man organizing a group-cleanup of submerged sandbags off Antler’s Beach this weekend.

And they want to help.

Dave Gottwald and his son were snorkeling the popular Peachland beach last weekend when they noticed hundreds of plastic and burlap bags used to bolster the banks.

A member of a local group that cleans up back country garbage, Gottwald decided to return this weekend, hopefully with a few other volunteers.

Emergency Operations Centre spokesperson Zoe Kirk calls Gottwald and others like him “terrifically good Samaritans.”

“To have that actively cleaned up is fabulous,” she says. “We want to make sure they get all the support they need.”

Kirk says citizens wishing to organize their own clean ups of public land should advise their local governments before they begin.

“First of all, for your safety but secondly there are often times when the local government like the regional district can supply support. We are right in the thrust of removing sandbags now so we have teams, we have Bobcats. Anybody that is out there helping to mitigate this is definitely a Good Samaritan in our books."

They also have advice that can save volunteers money and time.

“Sometimes plastic bags aren’t the best way to dispose of these things,” she says. “We might say just pile them somewhere and we will take them away.”

She says local governments can also help avoid issues with the Minsitry of the Environment, which governs Okanagan Lake.

“There are some very sensitive mussels out there so we’re thrilled that these folks are willing to take that on and do that but it needs to have all the I’s dotted and T’s crossed so no one gets in trouble.”

She says anyone who wants to organize cleanups of public land can expect support from their local government and can start by phoning their regional district.

“Those Good Samaritans that are pulling docks out of the lake, if they contact us we may be able to do support,” she says. “If they take them to the local landfill, they’ll be charged to dump them. If we are involved then that fee is waived.”

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