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Delta hoping Trudeau steps up with dredging dollars

The First Nations and municipal leaders asking for a collaborative approach to develop a secondary channel dredging program for the lower Fraser River
delta local channel dredging
The issues the First Nations and municipal leaders want addressed include the lack of a dedicated funding source, no comprehensive, long-term plan for maintaining the local channels of the lower Fraser River and clarity of the environmental permitting process, which they say is protracted and uncertain.

Local mayors and First Nations’ chiefs are once again urging the prime minister to take action on local channel dredging in the lower Fraser River.

In a recent letter jointly signed by Delta Mayor George Harvie, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Ken Baird and Musqueam Indian Band Chief Wayne Sparrow, the leaders noted they recognize the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s commitment to continue to work with them along with other government agencies and stakeholders towards a long-term sustainable dredging program.

While they appreciate the port’s announcement of $1 million in funding for local Delta channel dredging in the coming year, they are hopeful the contribution will be a catalyst towards the development of a comprehensive, funded long-term plan for maintaining the local channels, wrote Harvie.

“This is critical to mitigate the economic, social and environmental impacts that will occur in all our communities if further action is not taken,” Harvie added.  

The First Nations and municipal leaders had also written to Trudeau earlier this year.

This summer, the port authority announced $1 million in funding towards what it says is a near-term dredging solution to support key Delta channels within the Fraser River communities, focusing on Ladner Harbour and Gunderson Slough.

The port noted that for 10 years, and as a gesture of good will, it committed to providing a $7 million interim dredging solution to support the Fraser River communities.

As the funding for the program has now concluded, the VFPA is working with government to identify other sources of funding that will provide a longer-term solution to support dredging in the local channels.

A Delta report this year noted that preliminary annual cost estimates for dredging the priority local channels, based on hydrological studies provided by VFPA in 2020, has Delta at $900,000, Richmond at $575,000 and the channels up-river of Annacis Island at $250,000.

Another report warned that without regular maintenance dredging, the river will soon revert back to the same condition that prompted remedial efforts to restore local channel navigability.