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Vancity gives green thumbs up to local environmental initiatives

Vancity gives green thumbs up to local environmental initiatives
$302,000 in Vancity enviroFund™ grants distributed

Vancouver, February 9, 2009 – Vancity is distributing $302,000 to eight Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island non-profit organizations through its annual Vancity enviroFund program. This marks the program’s largest grant sum since its inception in 1990, with the maximum grant size increasing in 2008 from $40,000 to $50,000. The grants were awarded to groups working on imaginative solutions to environmental issues in their communities.

The Vancity enviroFund is funded by Vancity Visa*, which donates at least five per cent of its annual profits from its suite of Visa card products to the program. Each year, enviro Visa cardholders choose the issues that the Vancity enviroFund will support. For the 2008-2009 year they were: Ecosystem Preservation and Restoration; Sustainable Transportation; and for the first time, Consumption and Waste Reduction.

There were two grants awarded in the new Consumption and Waste Reduction category: one to Toxic Free Canada and the other to first-time grant recipient Free Geek Community Technology Centre Society. “We’re thrilled that Vancity shares our vision of empowered, healthy communities,” says Ifny Lachance, coordinator of Free Geek Vancouver. “Toxic electronic waste and overconsumption cause appalling damage to the biosphere. We'll be using this award to reclaim re-usable systems from the waste stream, and get them back into community circulation. Technology is a resource that should be conserved and shared.”

Vancity is actively involved in supporting local environmental and climate change initiatives through its community project grants, the Green Building Grant Program, and enviroFund. “As the first North American-based financial institution to become carbon neutral, we are committed to taking action on climate change and investing in other organizations and community projects that are doing the same,” says Rolf Baumbusch, vice president, Visa.

“The Vancity enviroFund program is a great way for our members to have a say in the environmental issues that matter most to them, and we applaud the initiatives of all of this year’s grant recipients,” says Baumbusch. “ It remains important, even in these tough economic times, to remain committed to the good work that is being done in our communities.”

This year’s recipients are:

  • Better Environmentally Sound Transportation Association - $40,000 to fund Mobility Matters, an innovative program to encourage people to reduce their car use and choose more sustainable and active transportation choices;
  • Evergreen – Community Stewardship in Metro Vancouver Parks - $30,000 for Community Stewardship in Metro Vancouver Parks to boost public engagement in local parks through education, partnership building and stewardship events. Evergreen will work with Metro Vancouver Parks and community volunteers to enhance and preserve significant habitats in Boundary Bay, Capilano and Crippen Regional Parks;
  • Free Geek Community Technology Centre Society - $42,000 for a Community Build Program to facilitate resource conservation by collecting discarded computer systems and training participants to refurbish them so they can be reintroduced into community circulation;
  • Galiano Conservancy Association - $41,000 for the Community Based Ecological Restoration Program. Integrating ecological restora­tion, environmental education and community action, the program will work with student groups to address habitat loss on both Galiano Island and in the student’s local communities;
  • GOERT Garry Oak Ecosystem Recovery Team Society - $20,000 for the Garry Oak Ecosystem Restoration and Stewardship. GOERT is working to enhance protection and conservation of the endangered Garry Oak habitat throughout Greater Victoria. They will support landowners, local governments, First Nations and community volunteers with workshops, restoration planning, and other resources;
  • Mayne Island Conservancy Society - $46,680 for the Mayne Island Conservation and Sustainability Project, part of a comprehensive terrestrial and marine conservation plan. The Mayne Island Conservancy Society will engage shoreline owners along Active Pass in stewardship of this important bird area, map and monitor critical eelgrass habitats and inventory sandlance spawning sites;
  • Musqueam Ecosystem Conservation Society - $50,000 towards the Estuary Restoration & Tidal Flood Gate Upgrade, a program that will help save Vancouver’s last wild salmon stream through the construction of in-stream habitat structures, the improvement of a tidal flood gate and the restoration of habitat throughout the Musqueam Creek estuary;
  • Toxic Free Canada - $32,320 for their Getting off the Bottle Campaign, which is designed to reduce the negative environmental impacts of single-use PET plastic water bottles by working with community groups to encourage consumers to drink tap water.

Since the enviroFund program began in 1990, more than $2.3 million has gone to support close to 100 different environmental initiatives in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. For additional information, including details on how local non-profit groups can apply for future enviroFund grants, visit Visa cardholders will vote on the 2009 key issue areas in February 2009, and a deadline for grant applications will be announced in Spring 2009.


Photos of the Vancity enviroFund grant recipients are available.

Media enquiries:
Jane MacCarthy
Public Affairs & Corporate Communications, Vancity
Phone: 778-837-0394

™enviroFund is a registered trademark of Vancity.
* Visa Int./Vancity, Licensed User.
Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $14.1 billion in assets, 400,000 members, 59 branches throughout Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria, and two Squamish Savings branches. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country by telephone, ATM, and the Internet. For further information, visit: