Although The Record’s Comox Valley Community Clean-Up is in its infancy stages, with the second annual event going Saturday, the community minded folks at J.R. Edgett Excavating Ltd. have been quietly going about their business as environmental heroes for nearly a quarter of a century.
J.R. Edgett Excavating Ltd., who will once again supply a backhoe and a tandem axel gravel truck (and the operators) for this year’s clean-up, first started its own community clean-up in 1992.
It all began when one of the company’s owners, Ross Edgett, took a drive down a back road in the Comox Valley and didn’t like what he saw.
“He found so much mess and crap he decided to ask the crew to do a community clean-up,” said dispatcher Gord Parnham, who was part of that original clean-up day.
What they did that day in 1992 was nothing short of amazing. Twenty staff members from J.R. Edgett Excavating Ltd. used two excavators, five tandem gravel trucks and three backhoes, and collected more than 150,000 pounds in one day.
A couple of years later, the Courtenay and District Fish & Game Association got involved, and that partnership has continued ever since.
The F&G Association took controls of the clean-up in the early 2000s, but J.R. Edgett Excavating Ltd. continued to supply heavy lifting equipment and volunteers throughout.
“There have been some incredible stories in those years,” said Parnham. “I remember one year, I found eight kittens up the logging road that had just been dumped. We took them to the SPCA, so there has been some good stuff come out of it, for sure.”
There have been numerous unpleasant discoveries as well, including one year when a load of shingles was dumped atop an RV septic tank dump.
“Some person got up to their ankles in literally …,” said Parnham.
The evolution of the project took its next step in 2015, when Dave Munk from the F&G Association called the Record. Munk was complaining about the amount of illegally discarded garbage dumped along the back roads of the Comox Valley, and how frustrating it was to have to revisit the same spots, every spring. He felt it was a losing battle. We felt, rather than just report on it, we’d do something about it, and we opened it up to the community.
We had approximately three dozen volunteers come out last year, complementing the J.R. Edgett Excavating Ltd. team and the F&G crew of around 30.
This year the Comox Valley Community Clean-Up has truly blossomed.
With the addition of Pick A Park, we are expecting upwards of 200 people getting involved somehow, somewhere, on Saturday morning. We have companies and service groups, neighbourhood teams, sports teams, and individuals cleaning everything from beaches, to trails, to parks, throughout the community.
If you don’t have a specific area in mind to clean up, join us at the Fish & Game Club, starting at 8 a.m. Bring a pair of work gloves, comfortable clothing and appropriate footwear. We will put you to work for the morning, then reward you with a lunchtime barbecue, courtesy of Thrifty Foods.
As always, a crew from J.R. Edgett Excavating Ltd., including Gord Parnham, will be there. He says he’d have it no other way.
“We are a community business and we support community-based events,” he said. “Most of our employees are local people, so we take pride in being part of the community.”
And there will be some extra help in the heavy lifting department, as Gary Marcus Trucking has offered to provide a gravel truck and backhoe for the day as well.
Set your alarm clocks and we’ll see you Saturday morning. You can sleep in on Sunday.
Terry Farrell is the editor at the Comox Valley Record