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April 20, 1999</ p>

Canadian Business For Social Responsibility

As Earth Day celebrates its 29th year this April 22, BC businesses say that a clean, healthy environment is worth significant revenue to some of the province's most rapidly growing industrial sectors. And, as the Canadian Business for Social Responsibility points out, they're not always the businesses you might expect. The high-tech industry, for example, which brings in well over $4.4 billion in revenue for BC each year, depends upon the natural environment as a substitute for higher wages. Film and television uses the province's wilderness as a unique drawing card to attract millions of dollars. And tourism, which last year brought in $8.7 billion, would be crippled if the forests, rivers and oceans were not properly managed.

Mainframe Entertainment, one of the largest computer animation companies in Canada, credits the local environment as part of the reason they are able to operate north of the US border. "A clean city surrounded by mountains for snowboarding and forests for hiking and biking is a big draw for our employees," Mairi Welman, the company's director of communication, says. Mainframe has 250 employees and is the only company in North America to create 100% computer animated shows for television, including Reboot, Beasties and Shadow Raiders.

British Columbia's natural environment also provides a unique backdrop for the film industry. "We need to have reasons other than the low dollar to keep filmmakers coming here," says Ross Muirhead, one of the province's most experienced location managers. "The Lower Mainland is particularly important because of all the natural, wild-looking places within such easy distance of the city and our major studios." The film and television industry spent over $630 million in BC in 1997 alone and their spending is expected to double in this province by the year 2007. "I know one film that dropped $37 million in a small coastal community," Muirhead says. "That kind of money makes an impact."

And tourism, of course, depends directly on BC's super natural appeal. Over 21 million tourists came to BC last year, leaving almost nine billion dollars behind. "People will pay lots of money to see our wild places," says Ian Kean of The River League. "British Columbia has more geographical diversity and more big game species than anywhere else in North America. We should look more closely at how Costa Rica has successfully made tourism its major economic generator. Mining and logging can only go on for so long but if we carefully maintain and promote our natural environment, we can be working in these places for hundreds of years. In the long run, our forests and rivers are worth many times more to us in their protected form than if we simply take the short-term approach of logging and mining.

Diverse companies such as these make it abundantly clear that responsible, careful maintenance of our environment is a crucially important issue that business - and the public - needs to be thinking and talking about. Deb Elliott, president of Canadian Business for Social Responsibility understands this well. "British Columbian businesses are realising that their business success depends on a clean, healthy environment," she says. "It's not just a pretty thing to look at - it's an integral part of our economy. Long-term sustainability is the key. If businesses operate in an environmentally sustainable way, our economy will also be that much more sustainable."

If you would like to contact any of the companies mentioned in this release or would like to find out about more local businesses just like them for your Earth Day coverage this April 22, please contact the Canadian Business for Social Responsibility.

Media contact: Joanne Braithwaite
tel: 924-3577 or 682-1953

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