Delta has taken another step in its efforts to get federal funding to dredge local channels of the Fraser River with the release of an economic impact assessment.
"Hopefully this will shake a few people up and get the job done," said Coun. Ian Paton of the report from InterVistas Consulting that offers a business case for dredging.
The report reveals a significant economic impact associated with Ladner Harbour and the surrounding river channels: 285 jobs, $8.3 million in wages, $14 million in gross domestic product and more than $51 million in economic output.
That economic activity also generates significant tax revenues for all levels of government: nearly $2.2 million in federal tax revenue, more than $990,000 for the province and about $744,000 for Delta.
"I think the numbers that we have here are pretty compelling," said Coun.
Bruce McDonald. "It's an important report, an important issue and we really need to move forward on this."
The report will be sent to a number of federal and provincial ministers along with a request for $4 million in dredging funding.
The silt buildup in the secondary channels of the Fraser River has been an issue in Ladner for several years.
The dredging of the Fraser used to be handled by the federal government, however, the secondary channels have not been cleared in over a decade and the build up is causing problems.
Until 1998, dredging of all channels was a federal responsibility. In 1999, the port authority took over dredging only the main navigational channel. Since then, silt has been building up in the many secondary channels.
Sometimes, during low tides, there is only a few feet of water covering the bottom of the river and on many occasions over the last few years boats trying to move in or out of Ladner Harbour, or any of the other local channels, have got stuck in the silt for several hours until the water level rises.
Float homes also risk going aground unevenly, which can cause damage to the structures and pose a safety risk to those inside.
Since 2009, Delta has been working with the Ladner Sediment Group and Port Metro Vancouver to find funding to address the sediment problem.
Since then the issue has been brought up numerous times with various levels of government.
Members of the Ladner Sediment Group, Mayor Lois Jackson and MLA Vicki Huntington have all made appeals to both provincial and federal representatives for funding to help deal with the sediment.
As recently as late last year, Jackson, along with Paton and chief administrative officer George Harvie, met with officials from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the B.C.
Ministry of Transportation.
Last year, the municipality and Port Metro Vancouver committed $2 million each towards dredging. However, those funds are contingent on the federal and provincial governments providing funding as well.
The cost to dredge the harbour and secondary channels is estimated at $8 million. Once the initial dredging is complete, maintenance is anticipated to cost around $500,000 annually.
Last month, DeltaRichmond East MP KerryLynne Findlay announced $7.3 million in funding for repairing and maintaining fishing harbours in B.C.
Projects funded under the program include wharf repairs at Ladysmith, Port Edward and two Richmond sites, as well as dredging at Steveston and other Fraser River sites.
However, none of that money was allocated for dredging in Delta.
Findlay said the funds were a continuation of a program for dredging and dock repairs for fishing harbours in the province and dredging of the Fraser River's secondary channels was not included in that program.
"That's a separate project and one that I've been working on," she said.
Findlay said she has been working with Delta, Richmond and Port Metro Vancouver, as well as the provincial and federal governments, to find a solution.
"It's a huge issue and one that I've been working on."
Sean McGill, Delta's director of human resources and corporate planning, recommended the report be distributed to the federal and provincial governments with a request for funding to match the $4 million already committed.
"The InterVistas study provides a strong business case for dredging Ladner Harbour and nearby channels," McGill said.
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