Feds offer local incentives in budget 

Money for sport fisheries, tax credit for SAR

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The federal budget handed down in Ottawa this week had some good news for the Sea to Sky region.

It included a tax credit for search and rescue volunteers with the finance minister, Jim Flaherty giving a nod to North Shore Search and Rescue team leader Tim Jones, who passed away suddenly last month.

And it outlined $15 million over two years for the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Partnerships Program, which supports local habitat preservation initiatives.

"It is definitely a positive," said Dave Brown, vice chair of the Squamish to Lillooet Sportfish Advisory Committee, adding though that, "it is not a huge amount of money when you look at it across the country."

Last year, the Harper government, which has been watering down fisheries habitat protection laws since 2012, put up $10 million for the same program. On Sept. 24, 2013 the federal government announced $142,000 in funding for two projects to restore, rebuild and rehabilitate recreational fisheries habitat in the Squamish area of British Columbia.

The money allowed the Squamish Watershed Society to restore Coho salmon habitat in Tiampo Channel, a side channel of the Mamquam River. It also helped the Pacific Salmon Foundation improve spawning and rearing of Chinook, chum, Coho and pink salmon within a four-kilometre stretch of Evans Creek, part of the Cheakamus River. The project addressed damage to the river caused by dyking and construction of the Daisy Lake Dam that reduced habitat for salmon to spawn.

"It aims to acknowledge the huge benefit that the country gets from volunteers, people in the community, who promote recreational fisheries, and it has good economic repercussions because the recreational fisheries produces four times more revenue than the commercial fisheries in Canada," said John Weston, MP for West Vancouver–Sunshine Coast–Sea to Sky Country.

Said Brown: "I have got to give John Weston credit. He has worked hard to find some wins for the fishery groups... The government is definitely not in line with much for fish these days, this is good news."

On the tax credit for search and rescue volunteers Weston said: "These heroes are the people who enable us to enjoy the mountains. You think of the fact that (Tim Jones') team participated in 1,800 search and rescues, and he saved numerous lives and there are people like him in Squamish and Whistler who are willing to put themselves in harms way, who put in 200 hours or more a year and now they will be eligible for this tax credit."


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