After years of lobbying various levels of government, Ladner's sediment problem could soon be a thing of the past.
On Monday morning, a $10million program to dredge the secondary channels of the Fraser River in Ladner and Steveston was announced. It is a collaboration between Port Metro Vancouver, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Corporation of Delta and the City of Richmond.
The program also includes funds for maintenance dredging for the next 10 years.
Happy to see more than four years of work bearing fruit, Ladner Sediment Group chair John Roscoe was on hand for Monday's announcement.
"All we're waiting for now is to see those dredgers out digging up mud," Roscoe said.
"We have yet to see any of the fine line details of what dollars are to be allocated to where...
There is yet lots of work to do before we actually see a dredge working in our channels but I am confident that will happen soon."
The silt buildup in the secondary channels of the Fraser River has been an issue in Ladner for many years. Dredging used to be handled by the federal government, however, the secondary channels have not been cleared in over a decade.
During low tide there is sometimes only a few feet of water covering the bottom of the river and on many occasions 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.
Float homes also risk going aground unevenly, which can cause damage to the structures and pose a safety risk to those inside.
"Dredging these local channels, and the provision of funding for ongoing maintenance dredging, ensures that we can continue to generate economic benefits for our community," said Delta Mayor Lois Jackson.
Both Delta and Port Metro Vancouver had already committed money for dredging - $2 million from Delta and $2.75 mil-lion from the port authority - on the condition Ottawa and the province also come to the table.
"Together, Port Metro Vancouver along with municipal, provincial and federal funding partners, is making an investment that supports port communities and tenants, helps to protect existing business activity, and creates an opportunity for new investment in Steveston and Ladner," said president and CEO Robin Silvester.
The province is contributing $3 million and the City of Richmond has also committed up to $2 million.
"Local residents and business owners have told us that silt buildup on the Fraser is a problem for them," said Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Mary Polak. "We have listened and responded by developing a collaborative dredging plan."
The dredging work is expected to begin next July.
"I'm really happy to see that the province and feds have stepped up to the plate because it wouldn't have happened without them," said Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington, who championed the cause and worked with the Ladner Sediment Group to bring attention to the growing need for dredging.
"This announcement is wonderful news to residents and businesses in Ladner, and I commend all levels of government for their commitment," she said. "I will continue to work to make sure all users benefit from dredging, including commercial users, small craft harbours and float homes."
Concerned residents established the Ladner Sediment Group in 2008 to bring attention to the issue with all levels of government.
"We owe a special debt of gratitude to the Ladner Sediment Group," Huntington said following Monday's announcement. "I am pleased to participate in their successful efforts calling on the port and others to prevent our secondary channels from becoming a swamp."
Roscoe was thankful to many, including Port Metro Vancouver staff, Delta, Huntington, MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay and local groups like the Delta Chamber of Commerce and Ladner Business Association.
"She [Huntington] has worked tirelessly in this initiative with, and alongside the Ladner Sediment Group and by speaking to the desperate need for provinical government funding in the [legislature] and constantly meeting with provincial officials both in Victoria and on the river, for them to see the problems with their own eyes," said sediment group member Ross Rettie.