Canada: Officials Announce Ladner Channel Dredging Update
On December 17, 2012, a $10 million joint commitment by Port Metro Vancouver, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Corporation of Delta and the City of Richmond was announced to undertake local channel dredging around Ladner and Steveston.
Since that time, staff has been assisting Port Metro Vancouver in developing a dredging plan, obtaining regulatory approvals and securing contractors to undertake the work.
During the last several months, Port Metro Vancouver has been working with Environment Canada and Fisheries & Oceans Canada to obtain the necessary regulatory permits and approvals to undertake the dredging program.
Separate regulatory approvals are required for the dredging, and the sediment disposal and, throughout the application process, there has been uncertainty as to whether the regulatory agencies would approve of in-river dispersal of the sediment rather than ocean disposal at Point Grey – a much more costly option which would add $1.4 million in transportation costs to the overall budget.
In order to support its application for in-river dispersal of the sediment, Port Metro Vancouver was required to demonstrate that there would be no detrimental impact to the Southern Resident Killer Whale critical habitat, which is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act.
The additional costs that would be incurred to dispose of the sediment at Point Grey, combined with the federally-imposed ocean disposal fees ($500,000) was a serious concern for Delta since it meant that the scope of the dredging project would have to be significantly reduced in order to keep in budget.
Various requests were made to the Federal government to waive the ocean disposal fees and approve in-river dispersion, culminating in a two-day trip to Ottawa (November 6-7, 2013) during which time Mayor Lois E. Jackson, Councillor Ian Paton and George V. Harvie, Chief Administrative Officer, met with the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of the Environment, and senior staff with Fisheries & Oceans Canada.
The meeting was timely since Ministry staff was just in the process of reviewing Port Metro Vancouver’s permit applications.
Staff has recently been advised that in-river dispersal has been approved and Environment Canada has issued permits to dispose of the dredged material from Sea Reach (200,000 m3), Ladner Harbour (250,000 m3) and Deas Slough (75,000 m3).
The approval of in-river dispersal is a significant and positive step which means that the anticipated $1.4 million that would have been used to cover transportation costs to Point Grey can instead be used for dredging. The issue of ocean disposal fees remains outstanding; however, so it is recommended that a letter be sent to the Minister of the Environment to reiterate Delta’s request that these fees ($500,000) be waived.
Steps have been taken throughout this time to keep members of the Ladner Sediment Group and local residents impacted by the project apprised of the situation. A resident stakeholder meeting was held on October 24, 2013 to provide an update on the project and assure residents that every effort is being made to get the dredging started as soon as possible. This is a particularly challenging project in terms of the multiple stakeholders, the stringent environmental and regulatory requirements and the technical challenges associated with the actual dredging work.
The dredging of the Ladner Harbour, a separate project being managed by Fisheries & Oceans Small Craft Harbours, started in mid-December and will be completed within the next few weeks.
Port Metro Vancouver has provided a progress report for both the Ladner and Steveston dredging programs. This is included as Attachment ‘B’ for information. Environment Canada has just issued the dredging permit for Ladner Harbour. The Deas Slough and Sea Reach permits are expected to be issued by the third week of January.
There has been some delay as a result of Environment Canada’s decision to undertake additional consultation with First Nations (while there is no requirement to consult with First Nations regarding maintenance dredging, Port Metro Vancouver has nevertheless met several times with local First Nation groups regarding this project). Port Metro Vancouver is now working with the contractors, Vancouver Pile & Dredge and Fraser River Pile & Dredge, in preparation for the start of dredging.
It is anticipated that dredging will start at the end of January, with Cannery Channel (Richmond), Sea Reach and Deas Slough, until the end of March and then resume after the fisheries closure, likely towards the end of August. Ferry Road is a priority dredge location; however, there has been a delay in obtaining sampling results from Alberta so there is some uncertainty at this time whether this work will be undertaken as part of the phase 1 or 2 works.
Press Release, January 17, 2014