For Immediate Release: Monday, November 14th, 2011
School board candidates from the Coalition of Progressive Electors and Vision Vancouver are demanding the provincial government stop forcing the Vancouver Board of Education to pay expensive carbon offsets that cost $405,000 last year.
COPE and Vision say giving the Pacific Carbon Trust nearly half a million dollars a year to pay for controversial projects like heating improvements at the Westin Whistler Resort and Spa or work by big oil and gas corporations like Encana is irresponsible when the Vancouver Board of Education is cutting teachers, staff and programs due to provincial funding shortfalls.
“We just don’t have $405,000 a year to give away to make big businesses more energy efficient when students are being shortchanged on their education by budget cuts,” says COPE VBE Trustee Allan Wong. “The provincial government must end the forced payment of carbon offsets by the VBE and other school boards immediately – kids badly need that money.”
“The province is treating school boards like a bully threatening a kid for his or her lunch money – it’s just not right,” Wong added.
Vision Vancouver Trustee candidate Cherie Payne agrees, saying the province should let school boards make their own decisions on the best way to conserve energy and reduce their carbon emissions.
“The Vancouver Board of Education already has a number of innovative environmental conservation programs that are helping our schools go green,” Payne said. “The province forcing us to pay money to private corporations for carbon offsets does nothing to help schools reduce their carbon footprint but it does badly hurt our ability to deliver the education students and parents deserve.”
COPE and Vision Vancouver say the government imposition of carbon offset payments on B.C. school boards cost schools across the province $4,416,798 in 2010.
Both the BC School Trustees Association and the Vancouver Board of Education have passed resolutions demanding the end of the forced carbon offsets payments but the BC government has not responded.
COPE and Vision Vancouver are running a cooperative full slate of candidates for the nine VBE trustee positions in the Vancouver municipal election on Saturday November 19.