Surrey council has approved a contribution of $371,000 to the city’s “SHaRP” program, in what will be the environmental initiative’s 24th year.
SHaRP – which stands for Salmon Habitat Restoration Program – is a major component of the city’s “Nature Matters” program.
It employs high school and post-secondary students in the summer for the purpose of fish habitat enhancement, hiring an estimated 675 youth since its inception.
“I think it’s one of the best programs that we have in the city,” said Mayor Doug McCallum, ahead of city council approving this year’s contribution during a Jan. 30 council meeting.
“I would encourage all of council to come this summer and meet these youth that are out working in the program and talk to them and see the work that they do around Surrey,” McCallum added. “I’m glad to see that it’s going to come back this year and I’m glad to see that it’s still continuing on.”
The program has grown over the years, both in size and scope, evolving into a watershed restoration program. Projects in recent years have included in-stream restoration; water quality testing and education; invasive plant removal; riparian and wetland planting; education campaigns and more.
Last summer, SHaRP employed 27 youth: seven post-secondary “Team Leaders” and 20 Surrey high school students. They were divided in two teams: Riparian Enhancement and Environmental Outreach.
This year, the city has set its contribution to a maximum of $371,000, which encompasses a contract with Dillon Consulting Ltd. to manage the program, as well as student salary. The funds are coming from a variety of departments and programs at city hall, including engineering capital works, engineering operations works, the Nature Matters program, as well as the drainage utility budget.
This will fund the hiring of 19 students, from May to August.
It’s hoped the 2019 program can be been extended into the fall season “to allow those students with an interest to stay with the program longer to be involved in additional projects with wider training experiences,” according to a report to council.
“A fall season program allows for opportunities to complete more restoration work within various sites around the city, as well as host community streamside planting events, school engagement projects and complete assessments of watercourses with spawning salmon surveys to evaluate high-value habitat sites,” the report states.
Expanding the program this year would require more funding. If more dollars can be found, this year’s program will be expanded to either hire more students, or extend its run from September to December.
Potential funding partners for 2019 could contribute as much as $77,500 this year, according to a report to council: $50,000 from the United Nations’ Association of Canada (Green Spaces program); $10,000 from the Surrey school district; $2,500 from Organic Ocean; and $15,000 from RBC’s “Future Launch” program.
The city is now accepting applications for its 2019 “Team Leader’ positions. Visit surrey.ca/community/1997.aspx for more information, and to apply.