‘Couldn’t come at a better time’: B.C. pledges $10.5 million for continuing beach clean ups

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The B.C. government is doling out roughly $10.5 million to eight different groups so they can continue cleaning 1,400 kilometres of coastline, creating 630 news jobs.

Seventy derelict boats will also be removed.

“You know, we are the ultimate end of the conveyor belt for the entire Pacific Ocean,” said Capt. Josh Temple, executive director of Coastal Restoration Society. “And because of the geographic nature of where we are here in British Columbia, on a global scale we end up being on the bitter end of receiving ocean plastics and ghost gear and even derelict boats from the entire Pacific Ocean.”

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy says the eight projects for this round of funding were selected through a merit-based process from organizations that bring their experience and dedication to the marine environment.

Recipients for this round are Ocean Legacy Foundation, Coastal Restoration Society, Rugged Coast Research Society, Campbell River Association of Tour Operators and K’yuu Enterprise Corporation. Recipients must complete projects from the current round of funding by Feb. 29, 2024.

Coastal Restoration Society is receiving $2.5 million.

“And our portion of this Clean Coast Clean Waters initiative alone has brought back over 100 full time, although they are seasonal, jobs to remote Indigenous communities up and down the coast,” added Temple. “These are much needed jobs in places where fishing and logging jobs are disappearing.”

On the east side of the Island, the Campbell River Association of Tour Operators is receiving $1.3 million in funding.

In 2021, it cleaned 350 kilometres of coastline from Comox to Campbell River and the Southern Gulf Islands.

Now it will be working in the northern Discovery Islands and keeping otherwise seasonal employees working a bit longer.

“I mean, it couldn’t come at a better time,” said Bill Coltart, CRATO President. “We’ve been going now for about a month. We’re up to about 18 tons of debris collected off the beach. Enormous amounts of metal and also rope, lots of various types of poly line and also a lot of Styrofoam. We collected both in this project and the last just enormous amounts of Styrofoam.”

So will the clean ups ever end?

“While we are ambitious and hope one day CRS will not be needed, I think in reality this work is going to continue for generations and millennia to come,” said Temple.

Recipients were awarded more than $10.5 million for projects that will focus on B.C.’s coastal communities. The funding is part of a $25-million provincial investment into shoreline cleanup and derelict vessel removal projects announced in May 2023, bringing the total funding under the initiative to $49.8 million.

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