How employees are taking action to clean up local shorelines

November 10, 2023

A group of FortisBC employees gather for a shoreline and trail clean up

Protecting the natural environment and outdoor spaces is important to us and our employees. That’s why on September 22, 2023, we celebrated Rivers Day by organizing shoreline and trail cleanups to help make a difference in keeping these spaces clean. 

The planning process

FortisBC employees listen to instructions for shoreline clean up

Around 125 employees volunteered to celebrate Rivers Day by cleaning up local shorelines and trails across the province.

With any coordinated event, it all starts with the planning. Our employees work across the province, so it was important to host events in different locations so everyone had the chance to participate. We hosted a total of five events in Langley, Kelowna, Prince George, South Slocan and Langford on Friday, September 22, with around 125 employees volunteering.

Cleaning up debris at Derby Reach park in Langley

In the Lower Mainland, employees met at Derby Reach Park in Langley to clean up wood around the bog.

Each location was organized by an employee site lead who helped with the recruitment, planning and coordination of their event. This helped spread the workload across our team. It also made it easier to have someone who lived in the area scout out potential locations and work with local organizations. Ariana Arguello oversaw the overall planning of the events, communicated with the site leads and helped book the events and mobilize employees.

What is amazing about this year is that we coordinated events across the province, so it really felt like bringing a community together even though we were working at sites across the province. The site leads really did a terrific job of being the boots on the ground help in each location and made all the events such a success.

Ariana Arguello, program manager in Surrey

The planning started in June, which gave employees enough time to set a date and time to recruit fellow employees to volunteer. Overall, the recruitment process was very successful across the different areas. “It helped that we planned it earlier in the year so there was enough time for employees to get sign-off from their managers to participate,” said Madeleine Foley, team manager for customer service in Prince George. “We had a lot of employees who showed interest in participating, which was really positive. It brought so many of us together to support Rivers Day.”

It’s a collective effort

Volunteers gathering shoreline debris into a large bag

Employees also found ways to work together with local organizations by teaming up to take action. In Kelowna, they worked with Friends of the South Slopes Society and in the Lower Mainland, they worked with Brae Island Parks Association.

Through this event, employees also found ways to work together with local community groups. The team in Kelowna worked closely with Friends of the South Slopes Society (FOSS), a volunteer organization that promotes outdoor recreation and continues to maintain trails across the South Slopes. This includes Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park where our employees and FOSS met to clean up local trails for Rivers Day.

“It’s been amazing to strengthen our relationship with FOSS and help do our part to maintain local trails that so many people enjoy here,” said Tyler Wilen, environmental program lead in Kelowna. “I’m active on these trails through mountain biking so it’s great that I can give back to a sport that I enjoy and is important for the longevity of our trail networks. This has been an extremely positive experience in collaborating and meeting people within the organization as well to give back to a meaningful cause.”

In the Lower Mainland, the team worked with Derby Reach Brae Island Parks Association, a non-profit society that helps preserve, protect and enhance the natural environment of Derby Reach and Brae Island Regional Parks in Fort Langley. They all met at Derby Reach to clean up debris and wood around a bog. Bogs are very important to our ecosystems because not only do they provide habitats for wildlife, but they can also store large amounts of carbon dioxide, preventing it from being released into the atmosphere.

Why it’s important to participate

Volunteers transferring shoreline debris to a large garbage bin

All of these events were planned and executed for our employees, by our employees. It was a great way to bring employees together from across different teams so they could connect and collaborate.

Employees felt like this was a great opportunity for them to be out in their communities and helping make these spaces a little cleaner for their neighbours. It was also a great way for them to spend time and connect with other employees in the organization. We had employees volunteer from many areas of the organization including customer service, operations, information systems, conservation and energy management and environment and sustainability teams.

We were very excited to be able to host these events so our employees had a chance to not only give back to their community but also be environmental stewards. It’s amazing that around 125 employees volunteered this year, which shows their enthusiasm to take part in events like these. In the Lower Mainland, I was so happy to be part of the event with a great and diverse group of employees.

Jennifer Robertson, director, sustainability and environment in Surrey

Volunteers heading home after a day of shoreline clean up

The feedback from employees was very positive, both from the planning side and on the day-of events. It was a great way to give back to local communities.

This is a great example of how our employees took the lead in planning and executing these events that celebrate the importance of our local waterways and trails. We continue to encourage our employees to find ways to be environmental stewards not only at work but also at home as we continue to find ways to protect and maintain natural spaces.

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