Marine debris cleanup projects will be undertaken by coastal Indigenous Nations, local governments, and non-profits to make B.C.’s marine shorelines cleaner.

The funding will come from the Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative Fund. More than $9.5 million will be provided for projects to clear B.C.’s shores of marine debris and derelict vessels. The projects will 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 George Heyman, minister of environment and climate change strategy. “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 the government. The application process will open on January 4, 2021. 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, 2021 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 of 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.”

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Applications will be accepted until February 15, 2021. Fund recipients and their projects are expected to be announced in March 2021.

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.

The concerns will be a priority for 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.”

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