Marine Education Centre gets $100,000 in federal funding

West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky MP Pam Goldsmith-Jones was in Gibsons Sept. 7 for a pre-campaign funding announcement, one of dozens that have been rolled out by the Liberal government in recent weeks.

Goldsmith-Jones visited the Gibsons Public Market to confirm $100,000 for the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre.

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The money, which is coming through the federal government’s Climate Action Fund, will help the Marine Education Centre deliver programs to promote reconciliation and a respect for traditional ecological knowledge, host events and education programs on the effects of climate change on local marine environments, and hold workshops to help community and business leaders with climate resilience and adaptation.

"The Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre's vision is to foster an educated community that actively cares for the health of our oceans,” said manager and curator Graham Starsage in a release announcing the funding. “This imperative is critical, as our coastal community will be deeply impacted by climate change. Funding from Environment and Climate Change Canada will support our efforts to build regional capacity and resilience, ensuring communities on the Sunshine Coast thrive in a changing climate.”

“I am inspired by the effort and determination of Canadians to fight climate change, especially by community leaders here at home,” said Goldsmith-Jones. “Our government is funding this project to support education and momentum for all who are committed to making a difference in the fight against climate change. Young people, especially, deserve a planet that is sustainable.”

As well as the programs supported by the recently announced federal funding, the Marine Education Centre is hoping to work with the Town of Gibsons on an initiative it’s calling the Health Harbour Project.

The Town controls a large recreational water lease area, and the Marine Education Centre is proposing a collaborative management project “to transform the recreational water lease area into a world class example of innovative eco-asset management.”

“We believe there is a strong opportunity to work as a community to understand, monitor, develop, conserve, and even restore the critical near-shore marine environment of the Town of Gibsons,” the centre said in a report presented to council’s committee of the whole on Sept. 3.

The first phase would involve working to update the 2013 eelgrass survey, doing debris surveys on the ocean floor and creating an education program for students and adults.

Town chief administrative officer Emanuel Machado said the money for the activities could be found in savings that came from Gibsons’ withdrawal from the Sunshine Coast Regional District’s Ports Function, which gets earmarked every year for projects related to the harbour.

The committee voted to accept the proposal and move forward. The decision still needs ratification from full council.

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