September 3, 2009

B.C. feels green over new budget

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Environmentalists in British Columbia are reeling over cuts to the province’s Environment Ministry, reports Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail. Although the government routinely discusses protecting the environment, it slashed spending by 15 percent from last year’s budget, and that number is expected to decrease in the coming years. The province also repealed the Innovative Clean Energy levy, a program that uses sales tax on energy purchases and raises $25 million for clean energy annually.

B.C. was declared the greenest province in Canada on Earth Day this August, thanks to its carbon tax and programs like LiveSmart that encourage residents to make their homes more sustainable. But environmentalists worry this title could change if the government continues to provide tax incentives to industry while putting environmental programs on the back burner.

Much of the debate centers around the new Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which exempts fuel sources like gas and oil but not renewable energy, such as solar panels, reportsAndrew MacLeod in The Tyee.

Meanwhile, Vancouver is taking matters into its own hands by hiring Sadhu Aufochs Johnston, a 35-year-old “guru of green” from Chicago, in its efforts to make Vancouver the world’s greenest city, reports Doug Ward of the Vancouver Sun.

It seems the incentives for environmental programs are there, but the money isn’t. It will be interesting to see what Johnston does with Vancouver and how much funding he’ll have to do it with.

– Emily Linroth

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