If you don’t think there’s a pollution problem in Okanagan or Kalamalka Lake, listen to Aaron Nasipayko.
The Vernon financial advisor and standup paddleboarder spent May to November cleaning up the shorelines of both lakes. Kal Lake was first, and then Nasipayko started on the daunting challenge of cleaning up the shorelines of Okanagan Lake from Vernon to Penticton, finishing things off Nov. 10.
“Between both lakes, I have paddled more than 412 kilometres and 316 kilometres of shoreline has been combed over,” Nasipayko said. “I know there is more out there but sometimes you can only do so much. I’ve personally logged just over 100 hours on the water alone excluding any preparation or travel.
“I hope people rethink what they’ve been doing and make an effort to clean up when they go. People don’t think we have a pollution problem here, but it is evident.”
Nasipayko paddled with a crate aboard to put in debris like cans, plastic bottles, plastic bags. Bigger items, such as tires, were put on the back of his board. Everything was disposed of in public disposal bins at area parks.
“There were a ton of tires in Okanagan Lake on the west side near Penticton,” he said. “A significant amount. Quite disturbing. It’s obvious somebody is using it as a dumping area. Also, close to the core of Kelowna, there was tons in terms of plastic and garbage.”
Nasipayko got by with a little help from his friends.
More than 150 volunteers contributed time toward the project, and approximately 70 of those volunteers were under the age of 10.
“A genuine thank you to everyone who has stepped up to help,” Nasipayko said. “I specifically want to thank Colleen Dix for her support and the generosity of Telus for the new board. I could not have finished without it nor imagine being on anything else. Kalavida Surf shop, you have been huge in ensuring that I have had the right equipment to be safe and making your rentals available for participants.
“Alexa Monahan and Nature’s Fare, thank you for the premium fuel, sunscreen and encouragement. Tenacity Fitness and friends, thank you for your fundraising efforts. Okanagan Lifestyle for spreading the OKNG love, awareness and the swag. Hitcase, it was a game-changer knowing my phone was safe at all times, it was my lifeline. My gang at Sun Life Financial and Latitude Financial, your support and encouragement is valued. To everyone who stepped up to take the challenge and the support from the Okanagan and Vernon community, I sincerely thank you. I have met so many great people and appreciate you all.”
Proud of his accomplishment, Nasipayko is looking forward to some downtime.
“It’s a relief to close the page on this chapter,” he said. “I’m definitely tired and looking forward to seeing some friends that I haven’t seen in a long time and finally unpacking my gear. I’m grateful to have completed this project with out any injuries. Our shorelines are rugged, slippery and not fun along the highway between Peachland and Penticton. At times I felt like I should have had a helmet on or a partner in crime for safety. I learned to be very cautious and take my time.”
Each outing, Nasipayko estimated he spent eight hours on the water collecting debris.
The Monashee Health Collective asked City of Vernon councillors to consider becoming a designated clean shoreline community in October after witnessing the work Nasipayko has done.
The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is a volunteer-powered conservation cleanup done in partnership with Ocean Wise and WWF-Canada. It started in 1994 and has seen over 800,000 volunteers clean more than 33,740 kilometres of Canada’s shorelines and removing more than 1.2-million kilograms of litter.
By becoming a designated clean shoreline community, the City of Vernon would receive a certificate, have its corporate logo shared on the communities section of the website and be promoted across social media platforms and in e-newsletters and blogs, the report reads.
If councillors decide this is a route they wish to take, Vernon would join Hamilton, Vancouver, Calgary and Lethbridge in the recognized clean shoreline communities.
“With the help of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, and individuals like Aaron Nasipayko, we can and will create environmental sustainability for the City of Vernon,” Monashee’s Steve Piper said.
Coun. Dalvir Nahal said as a follower of Nasipayko on social media, she is impressed by his work and initiative.
“It’s really commendable what he’s done,” she said during the Oct. 28 council meeting. “It shows what one person can do.”