PCs promise $50M for wetland protection

PC leader Brian Pallister (middle) stands alongside PC candidate for Lakeside Ralph Eichler (left) and PC candidate for Riel Rochelle Squires (right) during an announcement that a re-elected Progressive Conservative government will invest $204 million in natural infrastructure and the protection of wetlands to help preserve watershed habitats and improve quality in Lake Winnipeg. Pallister made the announcement at Oak Hammock Marsh Interpretive Centre, just north of Winnipeg, Man., on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019. (Brook Jones/Stonewall Argus & Teulon Times/Postmedia Network)

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The Manitoba Tories promise to add $50 million to a trust fund for wetland protection, if re-elected on Sept. 10, but critics argue their overall green plan falls short of what’s needed.

The Progressive Conservatives said the watershed investment will be added to a $52-million previously announced trust. The new money will allow about $2.5 million per year to be spent on incentives to preserve existing wetlands and projects that build new ones.

Wetlands protect water by filtering out pollution, including the nutrients that promote algae growth.

“Wetlands are like the kidneys of our watershed … More wetlands mean that we have a cleaner and healthier Lake Winnipeg,” said PC leader Brian Pallister.
The Tories say the overall watershed trust is expected to protect at least 75,000 acres of land.

The PCs also promise to raise an ethanol requirement for fuel from 8.5% to 10% and an annual biodiesel fuel requirement from 2% to 5%. They expect those changes would have the combined effect of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by 375,000 tonnes over three years.

The incumbent candidate for premier was quite critical of adding any carbon price, however, despite the fact his original green plan proposed a flat $25-per-tonne carbon tax. The Tories later deleted that levy and reduced their goal to cut up to 2.5 megatonnes of carbon emissions by 2022 to just 1 megatonne instead.
Green Party leader James Beddome said the overall Tory green plan is missing some critical pieces.

“It needs to be looking at transitioning off fossil fuels,” said Beddome.
The Manitoba Greens have instead proposed a $50-per-tonne carbon tax that rises by $10-per-tonne each year, along with pledges to enhance environmentally friendly transportation options.

NDP leader Wab Kinew said he was disappointed the Tories didn’t commit funding for a $1.8-billion upgrade of Winnipeg’s North End sewage treatment plant, which will reduce the amount of algae-promoting phosphorus and nitrogen that enters Manitoba waterways.
The NDP has promised to invest $500 million in that project.

“We know that the single greatest (point) source of (phosphorus) pollution that’s compromising Lake Winnipeg is sewage from our city. And so we need to build the North End sewage treatment plant (upgrade), full stop,” said Kinew.

In a written statement, Liberal leader Dougald Lamont also alleged the Tories’ are falling short on environmental protection, arguing the Liberals green plan “takes bolder measures on climate change, and will make Manitoba carbon-neutral by 2030.”

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