Delta's dredging dilemma

A lot of talk and lobbying has so far yielded nothing but frustration when it comes to dredging channels of the lower Fraser River in Delta.

“There is a great bit of concern from the people who live on the river because the drums are beating that Fraser Port (authority) now feels that they have no responsibility beyond the central channel and everybody is doing the same thing, they’re all pointing to the person next door. If the channels don’t get dredged and start to silt in, we in Canada stand to lose an enormous amount of money….something like $250 million a year in activity,” said Coun. Bruce McDonald during a council discussion on the issue last Monday.

“Somehow we have to come to a resolution that there is consistent funding or, as it was put to me on the phone very forcefully a couple of days ago, ‘let the damn thing silt in and we’ll use it as land.’” he added.

Mayor George Harvie noted it’s going to be a political solution to obtain the much needed funding, adding Delta has even gone straight to Ottawa to request funding so that the money already allocated isn’t wasted.

Coun. Dylan Kruger echoed the frustration, saying there’s been little movement on the issue the past few years.

Back in 2012, Delta entered into a joint $10-million funding program with the province, the port authority and the City of Richmond to dredge channels around Ladner and Steveston.

Work was completed in February 2015. The project was successful in removing 400,000 cubic metres of sediment that was impeding navigation and access through the three most heavily used channels around Ladner. Of the original funding, approximately $1.5 million remains for the channels in Delta.

A staff report notes that a minimum of 107,000 cubic metres of material needs to be removed to return the channels to grade at an estimated cost of $1.7-to-$2.3 million. At most, the remaining funds will allow targeted dredging of “high spots” which will provide temporary relief for channel users.

“Without regular maintenance dredging, the channels will soon revert back to the same condition that prompted remedial efforts in 2013 to restore local channel navigability and safety,” the report warns.

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