Surrey paddleboarder Scott Burton will host an event Saturday.

Paddleboarders to unite for the environment at White Rock beach

World Paddle for the Planet satellite event set for White Rock beach Saturday at noon

A group of paddleboarders are set to dip their boards into the waters of Semiahmoo Bay this weekend, in an effort to bring awareness to environmental issues.

The effort – spearheaded by Surrey paddleboarder Scott Burton – is set for Oct. 12, and is inspired by World Paddle for the Planet Day, which is to take place in Florida from Oct. 10-13.

“It’s our first year doing it here, and it’s just a very informal thing, but we thought it would be a good thing to get a group of us out – paddle boarders, canoes, kayakers, everyone – and go for a paddle, and raise some awareness,” said Burton.

Burton said that while everyone will likely have their own causes to promote and discuss – he called it an “open forum”, and plans on canvassing the group prior to heading out into the water – his issue this year is the current coal debate which is currently raging in the Lower Mainland.

Burton planned to have representatives from Communities and Coal and No Coal Surrey/White Rock attend the Oct. 12 event.

“I’m a pretty frequent visitor to White Rock beach – I probably paddle down here 20 or 25 times in the summer – and I was just shocked at how often the coal trains come through, with no tarps on them, and coal dust just falling on everyone,” he said.

“You get a very unique perspective from the water, looking back at the beaches and city with the open coal cars running through it.”

On a larger scale, the global Paddle for the Planet initiative is the creation of Okanagan paddleboarder Bob Purdy, who gained notoriety in the paddleboard community for paddling 1,000 days in a row.

Burton met Purdy at a stand-up paddleboard race last year at Kalamalka Lake near Vernon, and joined him for his 1,000th straight day on the water. It was then that Burton learned of the Paddle for the Planet event.

The initiative is gaining steam since its inception a few years ago, Burton said. In addition to his White Rock event, other satellite Paddle for the Planet events are being staged in England, Hawaii, United Arab Emirates and Korea, among other places.

Burton expects about 15 to 20 paddlers to join him for Saturday’s event, which begins at noon near the west beach boat launch.

All paddlers are welcome to attend, Burton said, and even those who aren’t interested in hitting the water and welcome to stop by, he added.

“Our tagline is, ‘A wave of change starts with a ripple,’” he said.

“It’s just about raising awareness of the event, and of our environment – to make it known that people are out there trying to make a change.”

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