A weekly lunch for people in need evolved into a cleanup of the Courtenay River Slough, which the organizer hopes will become an annual event.
Rob McBride, who owns the family-run Phat Parrot food truck in the parking lot of the former Courtenay Car Centre on 5th Street, provides hot dogs to people who struggle with homelessness every Sunday at Simms Millennium Park. He started ‘hot dogs for the homeless’ after his food truck was vandalized in November, shortly after he moved it to Courtenay from the Comox Marina. People who gather at the park offered to keep an eye on the truck. Three weeks later, they had identified the culprits — a couple of kids — who they said they would no longer be a problem.
“I realized these guys are just like us, one bad decision away from…who knows,” McBride said.
After noticing the sad state of the slough, he offered a free lunch ticket to anyone willing to pick up a bag of garbage. McBride then came up with the idea for the slough cleanup. On April 4, volunteers cleaned the shoreline from the corner of Fifth and Comox Road to the White Whale Restaurant. They collected enough garbage — bicycles, shopping carts, tires and even a transmission — to fill a flatbed truck. McBride’s staff, namely his children, helped out by cutting back blackberry bushes.
The Phat Parrot supplied lunch and T-shirts (printed by Aero Art) and the City of Courtenay supplied garbage bags. The city also supplied a front-end loader and a garbage truck.
McBride also gives a shout-out to Courtenay Coun. David Frisch and his family for pitching in at the spring cleanup.