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Search for sunken treasure resumes at Great Lake Cleanup

Third annual event aims to clean all of Whistler's lakes



Heading into year three of the Great Lake Clean Up, the elusive sunken treasure on the minds of so many has yet to be found.

"There was a lot of talk last year that there was a car on the bottom of the lake," said Roger McCarthy, main organizer for the event. "The divers went out and looked and they couldn't find it, so maybe that's just a rumour."

But among the hundreds of pounds of garbage pulled from Whistler's lakes at last year's cleanup was a tantalizing reason to keep the rumour alive — the seat out of a classic car.

On Sunday, July 12, the search for sunken automobile treasure begins anew at the third annual Great Lake Clean Up.

"To have this many lakes sit through a valley like this, it differentiates this community and this resort in a way that you cannot replicate," McCarthy said.

"I think it's just so critical that we kind of look after them and show them a little love at least once a year."

Last year's cleanup brought out about 30 volunteers, McCarthy estimated.

"I have a dock with a motor on it so we have a bunch of people on that. Some of them do wet duty and some of them do dry duty and yeah, it's a lot of fun," he said.

"I think we've made a difference already."

This year's event will feature an all-out cleanup assault on all five of Whistler's lakes.

Volunteers are asked to meet at Lakeside Park at 8:30 a.m. — no signup necessary.

New to this year's cleanup will be an educational workshop led by Brian Xhignesse, a fish and wildlife technician with the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and Henry Wang, lead diver with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans, who will be back again this year to help with the cleanup.

The educational aspect is key to helping people understand the importance of local water sources, Wang said.

"The biggest thing for me personally is that people need to understand that the freshwater table is an incredible resource that we have in British Columbia, and our drinking water is actually part of that," Wang said.

"So what happens is any time we have contamination of our fresh water table, that contributes to our drinking water essentially at some point."

Last year, Wang and his team pulled 800 pounds of garbage from Whistler's lakes — a number he's hoping will be smaller this year.

"Potentially we would end up with hopefully less, that's always the goal," he said.

"It just depends on where we go to and what's there historically."

Not being from the area, Wang and his team will be relying on local volunteers to find the best places to focus their efforts.

"A lot of the local lakes are quite large, so we don't even know which area to go to," he said.

"We depend on a lot of the local knowledge, so the people there would have to say, 'OK, well we know that there's a lot of drinking in this area so, we're going to do this or we're going to do that.'"

Wang and his crew are volunteers, but anyone interested in donating to their cause can visit