TIMMINS -- This time of year would normally see around 100 community members coming together to clean up uncovered garbage around Porcupine Lake.

While pandemic regulations still limit gatherings, members of the "Friends of the Porcupine River Watershed" group are determined to keep Porcupine Lake clean with physical distancing measures in place.

According to one member, Gary Dowe, a pandemic doesn’t stop trash from piling up.

"The world still goes on and you still have to do your bit and your part, just in a different manner" said Dowe, a seven-year member of the group.

"Coming out and doing it in a safe way is just as important as having 20 people cleaning up (together)."

Brenda Torresan and her mother Catherine are dedicated 'Litter Warriors,' having ventured out multiple times this year to help pick up trash and with no plans to stop.



Friends of Porcupine WatershedMany of these 'Litter Warriors' are yearly participants of the ‘Community Cleanup’ event. June 7/2020 (Sergio Arangio/CTV News Northern Ontario)

Torresan said virtually coordinating cleanups with the community through social media helps ensure that members communicate about which areas need attention — and how much.

And while many may be caught up in the frustration of this crisis, she suggests this is a productive activity for families to do together.

"Taking care of your own personal environment, it has to start there," Torresan said.

"(Plus), it’s going to get you outside to get some exercise and some fresh air."

Torresan and Dowe both point out that just as humans are battling a health crisis, people need to be mindful of the crisis created for wildlife by allowing garbage to accumulate in the environment.


Litter in TimminsDowe and Torresan warn that trash buildup can negatively impact the environment. June 7/2020 (Sergio Arangio/CTV News Northern Ontario)

Litter can cause health problems for the area’s diverse wildlife, Torresan said, which can spiral if left unchecked.

"One of the good things about living in the north is access to the wilderness and fishing," said Dowe.

"If you don’t take care of where you live, that’s all going to go away."