$10 million to dredge Ladner, Steveston harbours
Ladner Harbour will be kept navigable for recreational and commercial boaters thanks to new dredging funding announced Monday morning.
The $10 million joint commitment 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 will see Ladner Harbour, as well as Steveston Harbour in Richmond, dredged to allow for larger fishing and recreational vessels.
Dredging work is expected to begin in July 2013 and continue until March 2014. The funding commitment also includes money for maintenance dredging for up to 10 years.
At a press conference Monday morning, Transportation Minister Mary Polak said the dredging would remove silt deposits that pose a navigation hazard to boaters, but wouldn't cause any damage to the local environment.
Jon Roscoe is chairman of the Ladner Sediment Group, which has been lobbying for dredging along the Ladner Channel for the past four years.
While the dredging will help the long-term redevelopment of Ladner Harbour, it's main purpose is to continue the economic output of the waterway.
"We know the channel is filling in, and if that continues to happen… it would be devastating," he said.
The Ladner Channel, from Canoe Pass to Deas Slough, is home to more than 1,000 pleasure crafts, according to Roscoe.
"Boat owners pump an average of $10,000 a year [each] into Ladner, from groceries to maintenance work," he said.
An independent study conducted for the Corporation of Delta found that Ladner Harbour contribute more than $51 million in direct economic output.
Without dredging, Roscoe said that economic activity will move elsewhere.
Fish processing plants like Lion's Gate Fisheries and S.M. Products need a deep channel to bring fishing boats to offload.
"If they can't bring their boats in, they'll have to move," he said.
Roscoe praised the various partners who came together to make the deal happen.
The dredging deal includes $2 million form the Corporation of Delta, $2 million from the City of Richmond, $3 million from the provincial government, $2.75 million from Port Metro Vancouver, and an amount still to be determined from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Delta-Richmond East MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay said she was proud to help secure the funding from Ottawa.
"Providing clear, safe, local navigation channels is enormously important to our communities," she said. "I am very proud to be a part of this collaborative team and to be part of this important initiative, which builds on the ongoing support of the Harper Government, to ensure safe access to small craft harbours across the country.
Roscoe said his group worked closely with local MLA Vicki Huntington to convince the various levels of government to get on board with the project.
Left undredged, Huntington said the Ladner channel would eventually fill with silt, and become swampland.
“This announcement is wonderful news to residents and businesses in Ladner, and I commend all levels of government for their commitment,” she said in press release Monday. “I will continue to work to make sure all users benefit from dredging, including commercial users, small craft harbors and float homes.”
Mayor Lois Jackson said the project would contribute significantly to the regional economy and improve local quality of life in Delta.
“Dredging these local channels, and the provision of funding for ongoing maintenance dredging, ensures that we can continue to generate economic benefits for our community," she said. "Having advocated for this project for many years… I look forward to resolving this long-standing issue in partnership with Port Metro Vancouver and our senior government partners.”