The Fraser River Area in BC
The supporters of a scheme to dredge the Fraser River in British Columbia broader claim that it will bring more jobs into the area. They also claim that it would boost the shipping potential for the BC region taken as a whole.
After studying the area that may be dredged a geographer stated that there could be environmental consequences like Richmond been at higher risk of flooding.
Recently a team representing Fraser Surrey Docks and the Surrey Board Of Trade (SBOT) were in Ottawa attempting to increase the federal funding available for them to spend on the upkeep of this famous river for the region.
The head of business funding in Vancouver, and chief executive of SBOT, Anita Huberman called for funding levels similar to those, which had already been approved for the dredging of the St Lawrence River. She told Business in Vancouver in a recent interview that the plan was needed.
The SBOT and the Fraser Surrey Docks are also keen for the river to be dredged more buried so that the much more significant cargo vessels becoming increasingly standard will be able to traverse up and down the river. They fear that if ships find it challenging to do so, that will go to other ports and rivers instead.
Fraser River in Present Time
At present, the Port Metro Vancouver authority spends $15 million every year to dredge the river to a depth of 11.5 meters. The sand that is dredged up is then sold on to cement makers, and generate an income of $10 million a year for Port Metro Vancouver. If the plan were approved, it would mean that the depth of the river would be increased to 13.5 meters.
However, making such a drastic alteration to the most significant river in BC should not be done slightly due to the environmental impact it will have. That is the opinion of Michael Church, a professor at the University of British Columbia.
The Michael Church Plan For The Fraser River
The church is against the plan as it will make flooding more likely due to there being less sand to absorb the tide. The present levels of dredging have reduced the sand and silt deposited on the Delta from three million tons a year to one million tons. The extensive dredging would mean that the delta would be permanently submerged as sea levels continue to rise.
The submerging of the Delta will have dire consequences for the residential and farming areas of Richmond. At present, the delta protects those areas from heavy seas and tidal flooding. The federal government has estimated that sea levels will rise by a minimum of 1 meter over the next century. That would leave to the potential loss of much of the land in and around Richmond. The increased levels of dredging would speed up that process.
Church argues that the plan to increase the level of dredging is not the best method of enhancing the shipping trade along the Fraser River Sturgeon Fishing Charters. Instead, the strategy should be similar to the one already adopted by New York City as well as several of the Gulf States. There marches and deltas have been built up rather than whittled away. The dredging does not have increased at all as other harbors are capable of handling larger ships.
Church has pointed out that Burrard Inlet would be the best option all round, and developing it makes a lot better use of taxpayers’ money than increased dredging.