Volunteers collected garbage around the Elk Valley last week as part of the River Rocks Festival.

Festival in honour of Elk River

River Rocks Festival pays tribute to Elk River; event features dinner, a dance, a river clean up and more.

The Elk River Alliance hosted the River Rocks Festival over the weekend, paying tribute to the Elk River across the valley. The event featured multiple events, such as a dinner and dance, along with a river clean up in Sparwood, Elkford and Fernie.

Lee-Anne Walker, executive director of the Elk River Alliance, said she is happy to have an event that acknowledges the importance of the Elk River and other waterways in the area.

“I’ve lived here for 35 years, and I’ve been involved in the Elk River Alliance and started it in 2011 and what I see is a growing community that really supports the river and values it and they want to keep it this amazing amenity for recreation, but also they see the value in it as a healthy eco system. It’s something that is growing and it’s an awesome thing,” said Walker.

Walker noted that some clean up efforts have already taken place, and overall, they are seeing less garbage around waterways than previous years.

“When you think of all of the users on the river this summer, and so far we are finding less garbage, which is ultimately what we want to see. We’re not in a competition for more,” she said.

The community clean up effort was held in conjunction with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, a national effort to clean and maintain waterways. The most notable token of garbage was an old pedestrian bridge that volunteers pulled out of the river near Elkford.

“They hauled a 20-ton bridge out of the Elk River. That is going to win as far as the biggest piece of garbage collected out of any river or lake, stream or ocean across Canada,” said Walker. “In the 2013 flood, it was a pedestrian bridge, and an ATV bridge, and a snowmobile bridge across the elk river. It got completely washed sideways. We’ve wanted to get it out for years. These guys just got this company to donated a crane and these guys to bring in this loader and they just worked it all with the ATV Club and then hauled it all in.” Walker added that the District of Elkford aided the clean up of the bridge by providing the necessary permits.

The Elk River Alliance has participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup initiative for years, but this was the first year that they’ve added to it, making it a two-day festival and hosting a dinner and dance. Walker said that she is grateful for the communities in the Elk Valley because they care for and respect the local waterways.

“We’re thrilled at the generosity of the community and want to celebrate,” she said.