In less than a year, Positive Prince Rupert, the group behind more than two dozen clean-up projects in the North Coast area, have gained tremendous notoriety for their work.
One hundred per cent volunteer-driven, and started in March 2015, the non-profit organization has now combined with the City of Prince Rupert’s ‘Civic Pride’ initiative – a former group that performed similar clean-ups and beautification projects starting in 1992, but whose activity died down in recent years.
“We just started [doing] clean-ups and I guess that was a huge part of Civic Pride back in the day, and then it just stopped. So [the City] said that they would pick up all the waste when we completed, so we’ve been really lucky that public works has waived all our dumping fees and all of that,” said Positive Prince Rupert-Civic Pride (PPP-CP) organizer and founder Chantal Bolton last week.
“It’s been a huge help, especially financially. For most of us it was just coming out of our own pocket when it got started, so for them to take on that expense is huge. It means we can get a city worker to come help remove [the garbage].”
“Chantal was contacted by our public works and engineering department shortly [after PPP formed] with an offer of support. The City of Prince Rupert provides bags, reflective vests and grabbers, and when Chantal and her volunteers are finished, the City hauls away the garbage,” said Veronika Stewart, City of Prince Rupert communications manager.
“Prince Rupert is lucky to have a strong history of culture and volunteerism, and the work that Positive Prince Rupert-Civic Pride is doing is a really powerful example of that.”
PPP-CP does far more than pick up wrappers and toss them into garbage bags, though even when they’re doing that, it involves harrowing, cliff-scaling adventure.
Flower-bed revitalization, led by the efforts of Charlotte Rowse (involved in the original Civic Pride initiative) and Christine Storey, is in the works, public, rotted wooden benches are being replaced, graffiti painted over, materials recycled and bags and bags (often 20 at a time) of waste is disposed of.
Rowse also kick-started a new collective funds account for the group with an extremely generous donation to help PPP-CP thrive.
“It’s nothing hard to do, just simple projects that come a long way … I’ve been so impressed with our volunteers. Most of them are teachers from the school district. We have so many that are actively involved and they’re recurring volunteers all the time. They’re going to the schools and kids are getting more and more involved. I’ve seen kids picking up garbage in a bag and they were just doing it at recess, and I thought ‘Wow, that’s huge’,” Bolton said.
Twenty-five clean-up projects were completed in 2015, including Wantage Road (or the ‘Hillbilly Gun Range’), the Petro-Canada trail, Moresby Trail, Westview school woods, Rushbrook trail, the Miller Bay hospital, Highway 16, McClymont, downtown back alleys, the empty lot on McBride and Third Avenue, Rotary Waterfront Park, Park Avenue, the Oceanwide dock, Roosevelt school woods, the area behind the Salvation Army and Northwest Community College, Prince Rupert Industrial Area and near the Second Avenue bridge.
“As long as there’s garbage, we’re going to keep coming back to sites, we’re going to keep revisiting them. Somebody asked me ‘How long do you plan to do this?’ and i said ‘As long as we need to’, and as far as I see, there’s still a need,” said Bolton.
Usually, approximately a dozen volunteers come to help on a bi-weekly basis, when projects are scheduled over the weekend. Sometimes 25-30 people show up to help and sometimes it’s just Bolton and her dog.
“Everybody lasts a good solid hour … we’ve gone longer. In that one solid hour, we accomplish a lot and by the time we’re done, we have huge results,” she said.
More recently, the group cleaned up the empty lot across from the Highliner Hotel, which required multiple visits after their first attempt turned a tad dangerous with standard gumboots and garbage bags.
“If we climbed down [the hill] we lost our balance, so we had to have ropes to help keep us safe and get a pulley. So this time, we came a lot more prepared,” Bolton said, adding that the organization has partnered with others such as Transition Prince Rupert and the Special Events society in some of their projects to coordinate efforts.
But even if volunteers not in the ‘young and able’ category of cliff-scaling would like to contribute, there’s plenty of room for anyone looking to help out in any capacity, she said.
The founder said that the more the community values and respects the place where they live, the more beautiful the city will look.
“Value your own community, take pride in it and try to keep it a wonderful place to live. Each person is a part of this community, whether they feel that or not, but if they do feel a part of that, then they should value it … ,” Bolton said.
To find out more information, visit the group’s Facebook page at Positive Prince Rupert – Civic Pride or email Bolton at email@example.com.