Grimsby creek clean-up reinvented in the era of COVID

Garbage hauled from The Forty Mile Creek in Grimsby, including a dead raccoon.

Volunteers were out again last weekend cleaning up the iconic Forty Mile Creek in Grimsby. But it was more of a call to action for individuals than a group activity thanks to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The Ontario-wide lockdown is in effect until Jan. 23. With a ban on group gatherings outside of more than five, it made it impossible to operate the volunteer waterway clean-up effort using a large group.

So the Friends of the Forty 2.0, as it is called, a mission led by Grimsby-resident Duncan Storey, was more of a request for volunteers to do clean up together as a force, but apart physically. Storey last ran a cleaning up crew last November with a turn out of eight people.

However last Sunday, the effort resulted in Storey and his high school friend Grimsby councillor Dave Sharpe both hauling garbage out of the water in a socially distanced manner.

Storey’s five-month-old daughter Momo was along for the ride in the care of Storey’s wife Ayumi. Storey alerted a local Facebook group drawing one more volunteer that received a stock of free garbage bags and then went off to conduct their own effort.

“Each participant picked up the trash individually and under the framework set out in the provincial regulations,” said Sharpe.

The volunteers’ combined effort “managed to clean out the East side of the embankment all the way down to the fire pit area from the Remax waterfall,” said Storey.

Notable items recovered from the creek area included diapers, masks, jeans and underwear, an animal trap, a computer chair, and PVC pipes.

Storey added, “And unfortunately a dead raccoon and two hypodermic needles.”

Town personnel was summoned by Sharpe to dispose of the unlucky raccoon.

Storey’s passion for civic cleanliness comes from his late Grandfather Llewellyn “Pat” Brown, known as the Governor of the Forty, who was very involved with the town of Grimsby as a member of the Friends of the Forty. Brown became an advocate for a clean municipality, and Storey has followed his lead. 

Storey has garnered the nickname the Sheriff of the Forty. He has lived close to the Forty Mile Creek since childhood. He grew up at the base of Mountain Street in two houses across the street from each other, one which backed onto the Forty.

If you want to be part of the next effort, email Duncan Storey at [email protected]