Police divers dredge up garbage as part of cleanup awareness campaign

Beer bottles, old bicycles and rotting oil drums.

These are just some of the items dredged up from the bottom of the Ottawa River near the Rideau Canal Wednesday by Ottawa Police divers.

"It's a great location, Lock #1 at the Rideau Canal and Ottawa River, just because the way the currents work," Const. Ralph Millaire with the Marine, Dive and Trails Unit told CFRA. "It keeps all the garbage in one spot. One current's fighting the other so all the garbage stays in one spot."

The divers were doing double duty. They were training and raising awareness for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, an annual event that takes place during the month of September, where volunteers from across Canada pick up litter from the shorelines.

"We're going to come back next year the same location, same time, same date probably - garbage is going to be coast-to-coast, wall-to-wall," said Millaire. "It's just ridiculous the amount of garbage that's in here. [It's] understandable because it's next to two NCC trails, there's boats going through locks all year-round, Canada Day festivities around."

"There's a million people around here if you count the entire summer," he added. "Unfortunately it's like the ease of throwing garbage in the water as opposed to walking 50 ft to the nearest garbage bin."

On previous dives, police have found all kinds of interesting items at the bottom of the Ottawa River, including toilet bowls, rebar, bicycles, fences, chairs, even cars. Millaire said the cars are mostly ones that were stolen that the thieves tried to dispose of.

Susan Debreceni, the program manager for the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup said it's concerning to see all of the garbage dumped in the river.

"It's a wide variety of litter that we're finding," she said. "We're finding some rather unique items, but what's more concerning is some of the every day items that we find on shorelines every year - a lot of single-use items, a lot of cans and bottles and plastic spoons and forks and cutlery and all of these types of things. Even today they've pulled up numerous beer bottles that could be recycled or returned effectively."

Last year alone, volunteers with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup from across the country removed around 98,000 kg of trash from aaround 3,035 km of shoreline across the country.

Click here to find out more about the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and how you can take part.

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