Finding trash, and social media fame, on the banks of the Fraser River

A Richmond man is gaining popularity on TikTok, posting the litter and trash he finds on the banks of the Fraser River. Monika Gul looks at some of what he’s found, and finds out how it got there.

Steven LaRocca of Richmond is gaining popularity on TikTok by posting the trash he finds on the banks of the Fraser River.

On Wednesday, CityNews joined him on one of his outings to a spot with no shortage of old finds.

“They don’t make ’em like they used to,” he said, picking up an old ‘Etch A Sketch’.

LaRocca says he’s been beachcombing like this for about five years. His early finds also included an old axe handle, and a Coca-Cola bottle.

“Some people do call me a litter picker, and I will take that designation,” he said. “There is a lot of litter, unfortunately, to be picked up.”

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While some of the litter is turned into art, other pieces join his growing collection. The finds are also posted under the social media banner Fraser Valley Finds, where LaRocca says he’s gained 50,000 followers on TikTok alone.

“Some people love it, some people hate it. Some people would love to see me stop doing what I’m doing. Some people think it’s fake, some people think I’m placing stuff. But you’ve had a little walk around here. I don’t have to place anything around here. It’s all here for the taking,” he said.

LaRocca says the reason there are so many old items in the area is because there used to be a dump nearby.

“Closed in the late sixties. So, all the plastic is still intact,” he said, explaining the tide has slowly exposed what used to be underground.

“It’s pretty disrespectful to the environment because everything that is able to float that comes out of this wall of garbage, gets into the Fraser River, gets into the Strait of Georgia, into the Pacific Ocean, and eventually winds up on somebody’s plate, and that’s pretty disgusting. In 2023, you would think you’re looking at a developing country. But no, this is Richmond, British Columbia.”

While he had found some treasure among the trash, LaRocca wants something done about it.

“Some kind of riprap, like they used to shore up roadways and pathways along waterways, would probably be the best thing to keep the water from eroding it,” he said.

CityNews reached out to the City of Richmond, which said it couldn’t comment because the matter is the subject of ongoing legal discussions and investigations. What that legal issue is, the city wouldn’t say.

LaRocca says he’s been trying to raise the alarm about this area for years.

“I have a pulse, I have a conscience, and this can’t remain the way it is. In 2023, the past has literally returned to show us our future.”

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