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Shoreline cleanup initiative aims to turn underwater garbage into beautiful art

Arts councils in North Van, West Van and Sea-to-Sky partnering on Diving In: The Art of Cleaning Lakes and Oceans campaign
Ambleside Boat Launch Scene CG
A beach clean-up for art is taking place around the Ambleside Pier in West Vancouver on July 21, 2021, part of the Diving In: The Art of Cleaning Lakes and Oceans campaign.

An upcoming shoreline cleanup initiative is proof that one person’s trash can be another person’s canvas.

North Van Arts, West Vancouver Community Arts Council and the Sea to Sky Arts Council Alliance – which includes Pemberton, Whistler, Squamish, Lions Bay and Bowen Island arts councils – are set to host volunteer underwater and shoreline clean-ups to help remove trash from the region’s lakes and oceans.

The bits and pieces of refuse will then be collected and, following a call-out for local artists in each municipality, will be turned into beautiful works of art, according to Jennifer Lord, executive director for West Vancouver’s arts council.

“We’re all interested in climate change and the environment,” said Lord, noting the Diving In: The Art of Cleaning Lakes and Oceans campaign came about following an idea proposed by Squamish Arts Council executive director and hobby diver Amy Liebenberg.

The arts councils have partnered with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans, an organization made up of volunteer divers looking to make a positive impact, for the project.

On the day of the shoreline cleanups, the divers will venture underwater to pull out any wayward rubbish, while the public is invited to come on down with their own gloves and masks to help clean up the shoreline and see how much of an impact we can have on the environment.

Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans has removed more than 35,780 pounds of trash from B.C. waterways over the course of more than 140 dives, according to Lord.

“We look out at our waterways, which are so pristine from our perspective in British Columbia, and we’re unaware of what may be underneath,” she said.

Artists, many of whom will be tasked with partnering with a local school group on the project, will then reimagine the trash as of works of art – a combination of raising environmental awareness while finding beauty in something that's been tossed out.

“Probably each of them will be getting beer cans,” mused Lord.

Artists will receive the materials in October, and the finished pieces will then tour galleries from North Vancouver to Pemberton in 2022.

The shoreline cleanup in West Vancouver takes place on July 21 at the Ambleside Pier at 11 a.m. An e-waste drive will also be on-site, so participants are encouraged to bring down their old tech for donation as well.

In North Vancouver, the dive and shoreline cleanup will take place in Deep Cove in partnership with Deep Cove Kayak. The dive will take place in September with a specific date and time to be confirmed

Visit the Diving In: The Art of Cleaning Lakes and Oceans website for up-to-date information.

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