The waterways and bodies of water around Kamloops have always been an integral part of the city’s history. It is as Kamloopsians have coined it, the “River City” and to the Tk’emlups’ te Secwepemc nation, a land recognized for its vital rivers.
Because of the proximity to the city of Kamloops, with its more than 85,000 residents, the lakes, rivers and streams that define the landscape surrounding the area are visited often. With temperatures in the summer reaching more than 30 degrees Celsius, people are drawn out to the water even more.
The lakes and rivers in the area are an important part of Kamloops for recreational use and the city’s sustainability. The Thompson rivers (north and south) are the main source of drinking water for the entire city of Kamloops, according to Jaimi Garbutt, environmental educator for the City of Kamloops. It is important that people “enjoy them but still respect them” Garbutt said.
Next week, the eighth annual international World Rivers Day celebration is returning to Kamloops on Sunday, Sept. 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., rain or shine. Down at Riverside Park, the City of Kamloops and local organizations will entertain and educate the crowds throughout the afternoon.
Organizations participating in the event this year include the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, BIG Little Science Center, BC Wildlife Park, Kamloops Fire Rescue, Pacific Sports and the City of Kamloops Arborists Department.
Arts, crafts and live music will be playing throughout the day, while educational booths entertain the curiosity of those interested in sustainability, science or wildlife. Last year, the BIG Little Science Centre displayed samples of aquatic life collected from different bodies of water in the region and the Department of Fisheries laid out two salmon specimens to educate the public on the significance of salmon in our rivers and their importance in the large ecological picture.
World Rivers Day is held in towns and cities around the world. In 2005 founder Mark Angelo, a British Columbia veteran, initiated the event to bring awareness to the vital role rivers play in ecosystems around the world. The event now runs in more than 60 countries around the world, raising awareness and educating people on river stewardship.
Alongside the World Rivers Day celebration, there will be the annual Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, event taking place on the banks of the South Thompson around Riverside Park, organized by TRU student Julie Dixon.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is led by the Vancouver Aquarium and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). There have been four events in the Kamloops area alone and events can be planned any day of the year from the Shoreline Cleanup website. Individuals or groups can sign up to collect litter from the shoreline at the Shoreline Cleanup booth at Riverside Park on the day of the event. It is a family event and a great way to give back to the community, and drives home the idea to “act locally, think locally,” Garbutt said.
She says that each year cigarette butts seem to be the biggest pollutant in the Riverside Park area, but over all the pollutants in the rivers and lakes around Kamloops are minimal.