MLA Calls for Lower Fraser River Dredging

MLA Calls for Lower Fraser River Dredging

Delta South MLA Vicki Huntington took to the Legislature’s Question Period last week, calling on the provincial government to coordinate a long-term dredging plan for the Lower Fraser River.

The economic output of the Lower Fraser River is equivalent in both tonnage, and jobs, to Canada’s St. Lawrence  Seaway,” Huntington said. “This economic engine is dependent on continued, safe navigation.  And safe navigation is absolutely dependent on dredging.”

In 2012, Huntington, local governments, and the Ladner Sediment Group successfully petitioned the local, provincial and federal governments for dredging funding – securing approximately $10-million in one-time funding for the dredging of secondary channels including the Steveston and Ladner Harbours.

However, Huntington said one-time funding is not enough, telling the Transportation Minister that a long term plan is necessary. “The value of the Fraser River to B.C.’s economy demands ongoing sediment control,” Huntington said.  “We don’t want to be in the same crisis position in another ten years where our working harbours are left high and dry and our economic productivity is placed at risk.”

In her Question Period exchange, Huntington pointed to a recent 64-page consultant report that compared the value of the Lower Fraser River to Canada’s St. Lawrence Seaway and described the need for a new cross-jurisdictional governance body to replace the now-defunct Fraser River Estuary Management Program (FREMP).

We all know the Fraser River is a jurisdictional nightmare and the report to the region’s Chambers and Boards reminds us that the elimination of the Fraser River Estuary Management Program had the single largest negative impact on the integrated management of the Lower Fraser River,” said Huntington to the Forests Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister – adding that “FREMP was seen around the world as one of the most effective models for integrating the management of human and natural activities.”

Due to lost federal funding, FREMP folded in 2012, leaving the governance of the Lower Fraser River in the hands of a committee chaired by Port Metro Vancouver.

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