NewsAug 14, 2020

Local Hero Warren Watson

Warren Watson at the beach with a magnetic roller

Local Hero Warren Watson

Give Warren Watson a nice beach, and he’s happy. A native of Nova Scotia, he first set foot in Kitimat in 2016. He fell in love with it, and the sandy berms and beaches along the Kitimat River in particular.

One of the health and safety leads for Soletanche Bachy Canada Inc., a contractor that’s building various foundations for the new LNG Canada plant, Warren sometimes works along the river. One day in June, he was at a popular beach in Kitimat, measuring sound levels from construction activities across the way. That’s where he made an unwelcome discovery.

It was an old nail, stuck in his boot. Warren scanned the beach and saw more nails poking out from the sand. And some screws. And some bottle caps. Not good, he thought. They could cause serious injury to people and animals.

He talked to a colleague, who called a local building supplier. Did they happen to have a magnetic roller, something that could pull metal objects from sand? Yes, they did. A model that resembles an old-fashioned push mower, quite suitable for the task at hand.

And so it was that Warren found himself pushing said roller up and down the public beach, pulling up nails, screws and other sharp bits and pieces of rusted metal from the sand. On his days off. On his own time.

On his first run, he collected 15 to 20 pounds of nails, which he figures came from old pallets burned in beach fires, and from renovation work. He did a second run, and then a third. By July, he had done 10 methodical sweeps, and was still finding junk.

The beach is looking better—and is a lot safer--these days, but Warren says there’s more work to do. “It’s a popular place to fish, swim, and have a bonfire at night, but burning pallets there means that nails and screws will continue to spread across the beach.” He gets a lot of personal satisfaction, cleaning up this natural playground. “I call it my labour of love,” he says. There’s another benefit. “It’s great exercise,” Warren chuckles. “I work up a good sweat.”

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