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Feds announce funding for B.C. salmon

Former fisheries minister calls it a step in the right direction
FISHERIES FUNDING From left: Edith Tobe, executive director of Squamish River Watershed Society, Randall Lewis, president of Squamish River Watershed Society, Jason Fullerton, operations manager, Cheakamus Centre, MP John Weston and Greg Parker, president of Cardinal Concrete Coast Aggregate at a funding announcement last week. Photo by Josh Hemond

The federal government is providing some assistance to B.C.'s salmon.

Last week, West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast – Sea to Sky Country MP John Weston was in Squamish to announce federal funding for two projects under the Recreation Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program.

The projects are part of a plan from the Squamish River Watershed Society (SRWS), the Cheakamus Centre and the Squamish First Nations to revitalize salmon spawning in the area.

The SRWS will receive up to $34,087 for the Tiampo Coho Restoration Project, while an additional $148,708 will enable project partners to finish Phase 2 on the Notch Channel and begin a connector channel to Phase 3 for the Lewis Channel.

Weston said the announcement reflects the commitment of federal fisheries minister Gail Shea to B.C.'s salmon.

"What I've seen is a minister that understands that the salmon and fisheries are really important to British Columbians, (and) I've seen specific projects in our riding that have resulted from that," he said.

"I'm continuing to work on areas that are within the minister's doable range."

Former federal fisheries minister, an outspoken and passionate advocate for BC salmon, and lifelong Tory John Fraser commended Weston for the years of hard work he's put in to protecting B.C. fisheries.

"John Weston has worked extremely hard with a number of us, the Sea to Sky Fisheries Organization we've got going, to put us in touch with ministers, deputy ministers, senior bureaucrats and anybody else who can be helpful," Fraser said.

While Fraser has been critical of inaction on the part of the federal Conservatives in the past, he said the funding announcement was to be commended.

"Of course more can be done, and more has to be done, but these two things are a step in the right direction," he said.

"And they are consistent with the position that Weston has taken on a list of things that the minister, given all her difficulties and otherwise, actually can do, and here's an example of it, and that's to be commended."

Weston said the support from the government stems in part from the vocal passion of British Columbians.

"I'd like to see more projects like the ones we saw today being supported by government, and I love to see the leveraging that happens when volunteers and others passionate about fisheries work with government," he said.

"I think that it's fair to say that government can always do more, and we human beings who strive to make our communities better know that we can always do more. The key thing is for the dialogue to continue, for us to say the environment is the economy...

"Whether it's sustaining fish habitats, promoting tourism or even extracting resources in a responsible way, we have to look at how we can continuously improve and derive more and more economic benefit with less and less inputs from our environment. That's the true secret of Canadian success."

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