Posted on March 8, 2023
Mayor George Harvie recently sent a follow-up letter to Steveston—Richmond East Liberal MP Parm Bains expressing optimism on potential movement to get dredging done on the secondary river channels that have begun to silt up.
Harvie noted he is pleased that a working group has been re-established to help focus efforts to move the issue forward with senior government agencies, adding that a collaborative approach is critical to resolving the long-standing issue.
“From Delta’s perspective, the dredging issue continues to be a high priority, with increasing urgency as each freshet passes. I will be meeting with provincial officials in Victoria in the next few weeks to, once again, highlight the need for funding and a strategic plan for dredging the local channels around the lower Fraser River,” Harvie wrote.
Harvie also referred to a joint letter a year earlier sent to Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, co-signed by Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Ken Baird and Musqueam Indian Band Chief Wayne Sparrow.
They said 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. They noted that while they appreciated the port’s announcement of $1 million in funding for local Delta channel dredging, they were hopeful that contribution would be a catalyst towards the development of a comprehensive, funded long-term plan for maintaining the local channels.
“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 wrote.
The port authority in 2021 announced the one-time funding towards what it said was 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 had 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 said it 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 previous Delta 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.