03/13/2013 03:49 EDT | Updated 05/13/2013 05:12 EDT

Japan gives Canada $1M for tsunami debris cleanup

The Japanese government has given Canada $1 million to help support the cleanup associated with tsunami debris washing ashore on the West Coast.

The funding was announced on Wednesday morning in Vancouver by representatives of the Japanese government.

Canada's Environment Minister, Peter Kent, said the million-dollar gesture was largely symbolic but greatly appreciated nonetheless. Kent confirmed the money would go directly to B.C., which is handling the cleanup along the West Coast.

B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake said much of the money will be held back to help plan for the arrival of future debris and to assist communities along the coast as they figure out what to do with it.

The money will also be used to handle threats of invasive species which might wash up with some larger objects.

The B.C. government expects 1.5 million tonnes of debris will hit the province's shores following the 2011 Japanese tsunami — about half the amount of garbage generated by Metro Vancouver in 2010.

Lake said the volume of debris has not been as large as anticipated and the rough cost of cleaning up the debris so far has been about $500,000.

Tsunami debris has been washing up on the shores of B.C. for some time now. It includes a motorcycle, large storage tanks, fishing boats and tonnes of smaller items.