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New clean-up funds to protect coastal waters

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:34 PST, Wed January 6, 2021

British Columbia’s marine shorelines will soon be much cleaner, thanks to coastal Indigenous Nations, local governments, non-profits and organizations tackling marine debris cleanup projects.

The funding will come from the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund, providing more than $9.5 million for projects to clear the province’s shores of marine debris and derelict vessels. 

The concerns are a priority for Richmond-Steveston MLA Kelly Greene, newly-appointed parliamentary secretary for the environment.

"I am very much looking forward to taking up the challenges of marine debris and carrying on the great work of my predecessor," Greene said. "We are all becoming increasingly aware of just how serious the problem is and how urgently we must act. This funding will make a huge difference to coastal communities and the marine environment that sustains them."

The projects will also create jobs and support coastal communities as they recover from the COVID-19 economic downturn.

"Marine cleanup programs are a critical part of reducing pollution in these sensitive ecosystems and protecting fish and other marine life, as well as important food sources," said Environment Minister George Heyman. "These projects will remove tonnes of debris, create new jobs and provide much-needed support to local governments, Indigenous communities and other groups to address marine pollution."

The fund is being administered by PwC Canada on behalf of government. Eligible applicants include coastal Indigenous Nations and local governments, as well as non-profits and other groups in B.C. that have expertise in shoreline and marine debris clean up or removal of derelict vessels. All projects must be initiated by March 31 and completed by Dec. 31, 2021.

"PwC Canada is proud to be the administrator of the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund," said James Temple, chief corporate responsibility officer, PwC Canada. "Supporting local economic recovery through an environmental sustainability lens is critical to help our society rebuild given the impacts of climate change. Everyone has a role to play. We are committed to working with governments, businesses and communities to help navigate their environmental, social and governance agendas."

Applications will be accepted until Feb. 15. 

The program directly responds to the strong public call to action on marine debris that Sheila Malcolmson, then-parliamentary secretary for the environment, heard when she toured coastal communities in summer 2019. The main concerns raised by local governments and individuals included abandoned vessels, mooring buoys, polystyrene foam, aquaculture debris and single-use plastics.

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