A re-elected Pallister government would inject $50 million into wetlands protection and pump higher biofuel requirements into ethanol and biodiesel fuels.

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A re-elected Pallister government would inject $50 million into wetlands protection and pump higher biofuel requirements into ethanol and biodiesel fuels.

Progressive Conservative Leader Brian Pallister said the funds would be added to the $154 million already invested in the Growing Outcomes in Watersheds trust fund and the Conservation Trust. The trusts are administered by the Winnipeg Foundation, and would see about $10 million paid out each year.

"This will allow us to protect wetlands in perpetuity," Pallister said Tuesday, during the announcement at Oak Hammock Marsh.

"This is critical work. Wetlands are like the kidneys of our watersheds. They cleanse our environment naturally. They help preserve the quality of our streams, the quality of our rivers, many of which flow into Lake Winnipeg. More wetlands mean that we have a cleaner and healthier Lake Winnipeg."

Manitobans go to the polls Sept. 10.

Pallister said earnings from the Growing Outcomes fund would give incentives to landowners who agree to conserve natural areas on their farms, as well as working with the regulatory protection of seasonal, semi-permanent and permanent wetlands passed with the Sustainable Watersheds Act in 2018. The Conservation Trust gives matching funds to non-profit organizations for habitat preservation projects.

Meanwhile, Pallister said raising biofuel standards to Canada’s highest — to five per cent for biodiesel (from two per cent) and to 10 per cent for ethanol (from 8.5 per cent) — would help both the environment and local farmers.

"This is a win-win-win," he said. "A win for the environment, a win for the economy, and a win for Manitoba jobs and our agriculture sector.

"It gives us the highest biofuel standards in the country. That is the equivalent of taking 75,000 cars off the road or planting 25 million new trees. That's good for the environment, but you know what? It is good for the economy, too."

The NDP criticized Pallister's announcement, saying he had tried to pull funding marked to help upgrade Winnipeg's north end sewage treatment plant, which, when done, will be one of the largest measures to help Lake Winnipeg. The plant has been called the lake's largest polluter of phosphorous.

Lisa Naylor, NDP candidate for Wolseley, said the PC leader tried telling the City of Winnipeg it could use the previously committed $34.4 million for other projects.

"While Brian Pallister continues to refuse to upgrade the north end sewage plant, the NDP will work together with the city to get the job done and protect our lake for generations to come," she said in an emailed statement.

Last week, the NDP announced it would fund the province's share of upgrades to the plant, spending $500 million over 10 years.

Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont called the Tory announcement Tuesday just one more thing the party could have done during its three years in power.

"We're having an election a year early for no particular reason, and they're saying, 'Well, we'll do all these things if we get re-elected,' which they could actually just be doing as a government," Lamont said. "But they haven't.

"In so many ways, it's three lost years under this government... So it's difficult to take this government particularly seriously when it comes to the environment when they've reversed themselves so many times."


Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.

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