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Dredging finally begins in Ladner
Dredging operators officially entered the silted channels of Ladner on Monday, bringing relief to many boaters and businesses in the area.
Jack Waterfield, chairman and CEO of Lions Gate Fisheries, said the dredging will be an immense improvement for his business.
“I can’t tell you the number of fishing boats and fish packers that we’ve had laid up on the sand banks waiting for the tide to come up because they went just a hair north in the channel than they should have been,” he said.
During low tide the company has been forced to offload some boats in Steveston and truck the fish into Ladner. Late shipments, as well as crews standing around for hours waiting to unload them, has cost the company a significant amount of money in lost productivity.
“It’ll be much better efficiency, it’ll be better for the quality control, freshness, and better for everyone concerned,” he said.
An InterVistas Consulting report prepared for the Corporation of Delta in 2012 revealed that a lack of dredging was having direct economic impacts of $14 million in GDP and over $51 million in economic output.
John Roscoe, a member of the Ladner Sediment Group, has been lobbying various levels of government to fund dredging since 2008.
“We’re all pleased it’s happening, there’s just no two ways about that,” he said. “It’s gone on so long it’s a little bit anti-climatic.”
On Dec. 17, 2012, a $10 million joint commitment was made by Port Metro Vancouver, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Corporation of Delta and the City of Richmond to undertake local channel dredging around Ladner and Steveston. Of that total, $6.5 million will be allocated for Ladner’s channels.
The long-term goal now is to have money set aside to dredge the channels on a more regular basis.
“It’s a case of how do we get the funding partners that we have today committed to an ongoing scenario,” said Roscoe. “And of course it would be wonderful if we could get the federal government to join the party.”
Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd. is the selected contractor for the work, which will take place between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. for the next seven weeks.
The company will be dredging with a phased approach, focusing on the shallowest areas of the channels before moving deeper.
Of the 11 cuts designated for dredging in Ladner, five were identified as a top priority. These include three cuts to finish all of Ladner Harbour, one cut in Sea Reach and one cut at the entrance to Deas Slough.
Dredging will start from the Elliott Street wharf in Ladner Harbour and continue out to Ladner Reach. Deas Slough and the Ferry Road boat launch will be dredged beginning Feb. 17 and continue for a period of 10 to 15 days.
Operations will cease at the end of March when the freshet raises the level of the Fraser River and fishing season begins in earnest, but will reconvene at the end of August. At that time it’s expected Port Metro Vancouver will have finished First Nations consultations with the Musqueam and Sea Reach can be dredged.
Earlier this month Environment Canada gave approval for the dredged materials to be dispersed in the Georgia Strait, however Delta is still waiting for the federal government to approve a request to waive $500,000 in ocean disposal fees.