Almost $450 million in federal funding has been pledged to protect and restore vulnerable marine ecosystems and wildlife across Canada, Transport Minister Omar Alghabra announced in Saint John Monday.
The funding – totalling $447 million – is part of the Oceans Protection Plan, a $3.5-million federal funding program.
Alghabra and Saint John-Rothesay MP Wayne Long made the announcement together at Port Saint John, days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an additional $2 billion over nine years for the Oceans Protection Plan.
The plan was first rolled out in 2016 with $1.5 billion attached to it.
"We've done a lot together since 2016, and now it's time to do even more," Alghabra said Monday.
Long said Saint John has a busy port, with cruise and container ship traffic. He mentioned that a variety of environmental organizations exist "right up and down the coast from St. Stephen up here to Saint John and around the Bay of Fundy."
"This money will be available for groups to apply for different projects, to make sure our waterways are safe."
In a statement, Craig Bell Estabrooks, president and CEO of Port Saint John, said it was an "exciting funding announcement for coastal communities across Canada."
“We are keenly interested in sustaining the economic, environmental, social and cultural health of the Bay of Fundy, and this program will be an integral resource for our region,” he said.
Long said Alghabra could have chosen any community across Canada to make Monday's announcement, but his decision of choosing Saint John shows that he recognizes that it is a growing port city and coastal community.
"We are affected by what happens in our coast and our port and in the Bay of Fundy," he said. "An investment like this is an investment in our future."
Alghabra said the best way to enhance supply chains in Canada is to protect the environment by partnering with businesses.
"There will always be issues when it comes down to the details – 'Are you doing too much of this? Or are you not doing enough of that?' – but their partnership is crucial for us to do it right," he said.
"We need their partnership in order for us to maintain both the growth of our economic activities but protect our environment."
Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal