B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman said the province is spending an additional $3.8 million on marine cleanup projects to restore the health of B.C.’s coastline and marine ecosystems.
Heyman was joined by Aman Singh, MLA for Richmond-Queensborough, and Kelly Greene, MLA for Richmond Steveston, to make the announcement from the Richmond non-profit Ocean Legacy Foundation (OLF), a new facility that is committed to combating plastic waste in oceans through innovative ways to recycle and reuse.
The new projects — funded by the province in partnership with coastal communities and Indigenous peoples — will clean up 1,000 kilometres of B.C.’s coastline, remove as many as 30 derelict vessels and create more local job opportunities, said Heyman.
The Clean Coast, Clean Waters Initiative came out of consultations with local governments and individuals in 2019. Concerns were raised over abandoned vessels, mooring buoys, polystyrene foam, aquaculture debris and single-use plastics.
The cleanup projects will be carried out by the Coastal Restoration Society, Misty Isles Economic Development Society and OLF, which will clear 400 kilometres of shoreline debris from North Vancouver Island to the south coast of the Sea to Sky region.
In total, the projects will support the creation of 150 jobs, according to the province
Meanwhile, Heyman noted that the province is investing in new technologies to turn used plastics into new products. He also said B.C. is working to expand the number of products that can be recycled, including electric vehicle batteries.
Chloe Dubois, OLF’s co-founder and president, said the Clean Coast, Clean Waters initiative has not only cleaned out polluted debris but also transformed these materials into high-value plastic pellets that can be used to create new, durable and long-lasting goods.
“With our provincial-wide cleanup and processing facilities, we have the opportunity to protect our oceans and aquatic life and reduce the allocation of precious land to landfills, reduce the lifetime costs of managing these landfills, create important jobs and create high-value products,” said Dubois.
“We have the continued opportunity to transform a long-standing problem that has plagued coastal communities... into a new sustainability sector for our province.”
To date, the initiative has removed more than 1,000 tonnes of debris from local waters and cleaned nearly 4,000 kilometres of shoreline, roughly the distance from Victoria to Québec City.
-With files from Canadian Press