Jack Springer and his company, Campbell River Whale Watching, are in the process of going carbon neutral. Photo by Mike Chouinard/Campbell River Mirror

Campbell River Whale Watching goes green

Company supporting local efforts to plant trees, shrubs

Jack Springer is fully aware that burning fuel to take whale watchers to witness some of nature’s most majestic creatures seems a bit contradictory.

For the last few years, he has been looking for ways to make up for the environmental impact, as his company Campbell River Whale Watching is in the process of going carbon neutral. It might not be easy, but Springer knows it’s the right thing to do.

They are working with Green Tourism Canada, an environmental certification program for the tourism and hospitality industry, which globally has worked with more than 2,300 businesses.

“We’ve chosen to first clean up our own act,” Springer said.

The company goes through an assessment of its practices and products to measure its environmental footprint.

“They evaluate you each year,” Springer said. “We’re at the silver level.”

It then looks for ways to reduce its impact on the environment while paying to mitigate its effects through carbon offsets—in other words, by supporting green projects.

“You put your money where your mouth is,” he said.

Campbell River Whale Watching is supporting local organization Greenways Land Trust to maintain trails and surrounding ecosystem. Last month, the company made a $5,000 donation and volunteered with the group’s Broom Bash clean-up of invasive weeds at Myrt Thompson Trail. The company also plans to donate whale-watching trips to help raise funds.

Greenways has been around since 1996, and last year planted 1,600 native trees and shrubs. Executive director Cynthia Bendickson said that group has not sought certification as an official carbon neutral project.

“We haven’t looked into doing anything officially,” she said.

There had been provincial grant funding available to assist with the process in the past, but this is no longer the case, so Greenways is focussing its efforts on work to make the local environment greener.

As Greenways is local, Springer wants to direct his money to it, especially it relies on support from the Campbell River community to help plant and maintain native trees and shrubs.

“A lot of the stuff they get, they get by donation,” Springer said. “We just thought we’d get on board.”

RELATED STORY: Greenways partners with TD to add 200 trees to Campbell River nature reserve

While Campbell River Whale Watching relies on fuel for its boats, it has been making changes around its office to reduce its demands on the enviroment and lower its carbon offsets. This has included measures such as installing a heat pump, switching to low-energy lights, changing the office printer to one that is more efficient and uses refillable cartridges, using low-flow toilets and having cellular phone chargers on boats. Springer admits the Green Tourism program is thorough, as it even has stipulations on practices such as the window cleaner the drivers use to wipe the windows.

There is still work to do to get to the gold standard, such as going paperless. Even though Campbell River Whale Watching does not rely on paper that much, the company switched to an online booking system rather than keeping track of scheduling in binders.

Tourism does have an effect on the environment, especially through fuel consumption on flights, though through programs like Green Tourism, companies can find ways to reduce impact while travellers can calculate the impact they have on their environment through activities such as flights.

Springer points to Harbour Air, the B.C.-based seaplane airline, as an example to show that even airlines can reduce environmental impact.

“If Harbour Air can go carbon neutral, then I think anybody can be carbon neutral,” he said.

Considering not only tourism providers but hotels and restaurants, Springer knows there are many businesses in Campbell River that depend on visitors, so he hopes his actions will inspire others to work more collaboratively to go “green” and at the same time promote all of their businesses.

“You have to pave the road for some of the companies,” he said. “We’re all in the same show. We all want people to come.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Check out a new future at career and education fair in Comox

Event today features booths from more than 40 employers and educational institutions

BC Hydro urging caution around Campbell River system as filling reservoirs require water release

BC Hydro began a system-wide extra water release Wednesday night

Campbell River artists looking for a spot to put a 20-foot long driftwood salmon

Collaboration between Eiko Jones, Kim Isles and Alex Witcombe is garnering attention

Read Islanders look to purchase, preserve 20 more acres of forest lands

Campaign has raised over $97K of $115K goal to add to the $50K already donated by local family

Residents oppose bar proposed for Campbell River neighbourhood

UPDATE: Spokesperson says the plan is for an ‘entertainment venue’ not a pub

VIDEO: Rare ‘ice circle’ spotted on Kamloops river

An ice circle or ice pan, has formed in the chilly waters just east of the Yellowhead Bridge

Uber, Lyft approved for ride-hailing in Lower Mainland

Kater Technologies Inc.’s application was rejected

B.C. man rescued after getting trapped headfirst in well as water level rose

The rescue involved crews from Oak Bay and Saanich

Investigators in wildfire-torn Australia head to site of B.C. airtanker crash

The B.C. government sends condolences to Port Alberni-owned Coulson Aviation

RCMP investigating sexual allegation against Lower Mainland police officer

Delta officer suspended while the alleged off-duty incident involving a co-worker is investigated

Former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse in B.C. granted day parole

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s

VIDEO: Person in wheelchair narrowly avoids collision with car in Kelowna

There were no injuries in the scary looking near-accident last week in Rutland

Here’s what Canada is doing to stop the coronavirus from getting in

Health officials are monitoring multiple possible cases in Canada

Most Read