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SPENCER: Local environmental super heroes

These everyday heroes don’t wear a cape and they can’t fly, but they did save the day. They got together with gloves on, and with garbage bags and bins made the world a better place, especially for Port Burwell and community.

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Abi Maclean initially got the ball rolling when she came across an illegal dump site on Lakeshore Line about a month ago. She formed a messenger group called ‘Cliff cleanup crew’ and added interested residents that wanted to help.


Another group called the Bayham Garbage Busters joined in her efforts and set a date for a cleanup after finding the owner of the property to get permission. “He is from St. Williams and owns a marina so is very conscience of water contamination,” shared Cindy Stewart.

The property owner was extremely grateful for our support and offered anything we needed to do a cleanup. They got a large bin that was donated by Kory Kuipers Dumpster Rentals. Some group members had to work and Abi herself fell ill the day of. Stewart was able to step in, and with the support of seven others (Serge Pieter, Rachel Knight-Wintermute, Jeff Leask, Erica Thomas -Arsenault and three young strapping brothers, Jesse, Sam and Mike Klassen) they took on the local Lake Erie cliff that was smothered in garbage dumping.

They started around 10 a.m. this past Saturday, using ladders and rope, placing the garbage in bags on a tarp and with the support of a truck and a lot of pulling and shoving over the top edge of the cliff, they cleaned up about 25 massive loads of garbage.

They separated what could be recycled and binned the rest separately, also ending with five bags of cans and bottles. They took everything to a place in London called All Recycle to cut down on the amount going into the landfill. Sadly, a great portion of the “garbage,” a guesstimate of 70 per cent, could have been repurposed or donated to a second-hand store.

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Ahead of the cleanup we checked for any identification in the cliffside dumping material and found about five different names. Through social media they were able to make contact with the owners of the garbage. They were kindly invited to come and support the cleanup day with no judgement. They didn’t expect them and they didn’t show, but they knew that people knew who was responsible.

The area will now be under heavy surveillance both by volunteers and video surveillance to make sure this doesn’t happen here again.

There is another smaller dump site further down the Lakeshore Line that Stewart and her crew plan to tackle but this effort is growing in popularity and is bringing out more interested residents in helping, so they won’t be doing it alone.

“It was a really, really great day. We worked together and had fun believe it or not. We drank a lot of Gatorade on such a warm summer day, maybe they will sponsor us someday,” joked Stewart.

“Not one of us knew each other ahead of this but at the end of the day we were fast friends.”

The mission these local heroes set out to do was a complete success and so satisfying to see the end results about six hours after they started.

Our environment is a part of us. When we mistreat the environment, we all pay the price. Thank you to these kind crusaders that took the time to clean up another’s mess and inspired many to join the movement. These are what everyday heroes do.

(Happy Healthy YOU column by Mindfulness Specialist, Kelly Spencer. If you have a subject you would like to see, please email

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