Posted on January 13, 2023
The VFPA administers maintenance dredging of the Fraser River deep-sea shipping channel
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority (VFPA) has issued a request for proposals for a contractor to undertake annual maintenance dredging of the main navigation channels and port berths as well as management of the sand dredged.
According to the port, it administers maintenance dredging of the Fraser River deep-sea shipping channel and berths and approaches at DP World Fraser Surrey Docks.
Timely and efficient dredging is essential to maintain the navigation channels and berths, particularly during and following the spring freshet as well as prior to the end of the dredge season, the port explains.
The annual dredge volume from the navigation channels and berths ranges from three-to-4.5 million cubic metres, with a five-year average of 3.9 million cubic metres, the request for proposals states.
The dredging season lasts approximately 258 days starting on or about June 16th and ending on the last day of February the following year.
It is anticipated that the term of the contract agreement will be for a minimum base term of 12 years with an opportunity to extend.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen if there will be movement when it comes to a regular dredging program for the secondary river channels.
The port authority says that, outside of annual maintenance dredging, it has supported programs to dredge smaller channels of the river used by recreational boaters and houseboat residents. The one-time programs were offered as part of a range of community support initiatives.
That lack of consistent funding has been a sore point for the City of Delta, which has begun trying to advocate together with the Tsawwassen First Nation, the Musqueam Indian Band and the City of Richmond in the hope that more voices could bring results.
In late 2021, Delta Mayor George Harvie, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Ken Baird and Musqueam Indian Band Chief Wayne Sparrow sent a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging action on local channel dredging in the lower Fraser.
They said they recognize the VFPA’s commitment to continue to work with them along with other government agencies and stakeholders towards a long-term sustainable dredging program, and while they appreciated the port’s announcement at the time of $1 million in funding for local Delta channel dredging for the following year, 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 toward 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.