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British Columbia Ancient Forests News
Council endorses Pop for Parks
Saanich News, March 19, 2016Jane Morden of the Port Alberni Watershed-Forest Alliance stands among the endangered giant Douglas-firs in the Cameron Valley Firebreak ancient forest on Island Timberlands' private lands.
Saanich council has put their support behind Pop for Parks, an initiative calling on the provincial government to direct unclaimed bottle deposits into a land acquisition fund.
On Monday, council voted 8-1 in favour of the resolution, which is to be submitted to the AVICC and the UBCM. If approved, B.C. residents could see $10 to $15 million annually put toward creating and protecting green spaces in the province.
The recommendation was brought to council in a joint report by Couns. Fred Haynes and Vic Derman. Haynes noted that about 20 per cent of bottles and cans are not returned, creating windfall profits for the beverage industry.
“What we’re seeking in this resolution is attention to that fund, and it might be that part of the fund is used for parks,” said Haynes. “The aim is to raise this issue and have that fund looked at as a possible source of revenue for parks.”
Likewise, Derman acknowledged that the money would do a lot of good for the local environment, even if it wasn’t entirely used to acquire green spaces.
“I think there is an opportunity to mandate that a fair amount of this unredeemed deposit on the part of the public should go to something like parks,” said Derman.
Coun. Leif Wergeland voted against the proposal, but only because he wanted council and residents to consider if there are other options where the money would be better spent.
“The acquisition and protection of ecologically sensitive private lands in B.C., I don’t think anyone around this table or in this room can really argue with that,” he said. “The question I think we have to ask ourselves and the greater community is, if these funds are accessible to us, acquiring and protecting parkland, is that the most important issue facing us? It could well be, but I think we should look at that before we just look at one area and say we’d like to put money into this.
“For that reason only, I support the environment, but on this issue, I’d like to be sure this is where our residents and council really want to put the money.”