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Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Maintains Fraser River and Helps Local Shipping Channels

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority operates the Port of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. The port authority maintains the Fraser River and helps local communities perform dredging work in local channels.

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority operates the Port of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada. The port authority maintains the Fraser River and helps local communities perform dredging work in local channels.


BY ANNA TOWNSHEND 


The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority, which operates the Port of Vancouver in British Co­lumbia, Canada, supports a maintenance dredg­ing program for the Fraser River shipping chan­nel, performs period dredging at deep-sea berths at Burrard Inlet, and established the Local Chan­nel Dredging Contribution Program to help local communities maintain their channels along the river. 


Since 1999, the dredging of the shipping channel has been performed by Fraser River Pile & Dredge (FRPD) Inc. Chris Wellstood, harbormaster and director of marine operations and security, said the shipping channel in the South Arm of the Fraser River requires ongoing maintenance dredging. The port authority has a 10-year contract with FRPD. The Fraser River Channel Maintenance Dredging and Sand Man­agement Contract expires December 31, 2022. 
Wellstood said the average annual amount of dredge material is 3 to 4 million cubic meters (3.9 to 5.2 cubic yards). 


The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is es­tablished by the government of Canada, pursu­ant to the Canada Marine Act, and accountable to the federal Minister of Transport. “Our man­date is to facilitate Canada’s trade objectives, ensuring good are moved safety, while protect­ing the environment and considering local communities. Providing unimpeded access to terminals for vessel is critical to ensuring trade is conducted safely. Dredging is often required to ensure appropriate water depth for ships. Dredg­ing is an essential part of our navigational safety and we allocate significant resources annually to meet our federal responsibility to facilitate trade,” Wellstood said. 
In 2008, the Vancouver Fraser Port Author­ity completed a Capital Dredge Program for the deep-sea shipping channel in the South Arm of the Fraser River, which included widening a few bends in order to accommodate ships up to 270 meters (about 886 feet) LOA. The previ­ous design was for vessels 245 meters (about 803 feet) LOA. 


All dredging in the Fraser River used to be the responsibility of the federal government. In 1999, the local port authorities were granted au­thority, but not responsibility, to dredge chan­nels to for safety and navigation. Wellstood said the port authority dredges the Main Arm of the Fraser River for deep-sea vessels in support of trade. To help maintain those channels, the port authority announced the Local Channel Dredg­ing Program in 2009, which provided $7 million in funding over the next 10 years to riverfront communities to assist their dredging needs. Riv­er User Associations within eligible communi­ties may apply for funding contributions up to a maximum of $500,000 per local channel over a 10-year period. 
In 2009, more than CAD$100,000 ($74,000 USD) was provided for dredging the entrance to Cannery Channel. The remaining amount eligible for Cannery Channel in Steveston Har­bour was assigned to the Ladner Steveston Local Channel Dredging project in 2012. 


In 2009, more than CAD$100,000 ($74,000 US D) was provided to conduct studies into long term dredging solutions. The remaining amount eligible for the five channels in Lad­ner was assigned to the Ladner Steveston Lo­cal Channel Dredging project in 2012. These channels are: Sea Reach, Ladner Harbour, Ladner Reach, Canoe Pass and Deas Slough. 


From 2010 through 2014, approximately CAD$150,000 ($111,000 USD) was provided to conduct studies into long term dredging so­lutions in the Shelter Island area. In 2015, an amount was advanced to conduct consultation with First Nations in the area. 


In 2012, approximately CAD$20,000 ($14,800 USD) was provided to conduct sedi­ment sampling and analysis in North Delta Harbour. In 2013, more than CAD$100,000 ($74,000 USD) was provided to conduct dredging at the entrance to Gunderson Slough. In 2014, 146,000 cubic meters (191,000 cubic yards) were removed from Ladner Harbour; 78,033 cubic meters (102,000 cubic yards) were removed from Deas Slough; 169,250 cubic meters (221,000 cubic yards) were dredged from Sea Reach; 142,644 cubic me­ters (187,000 cubic yards) were dredged from Cannery Channel in Stevenston Harbour; 10,513 cubic meters (13,775 cubic yards) were removed between Cannery Channel and Im­perial Landing. In 2015, 14,900 cubic meters (19,500 cubic yards) were removed from Lad­ner Harbour. 


In 2012, the port authority formed another program to help local dredging needs. It signed an agreement with the the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, the City of Richmond and the Corporation of Delta to jointly fund a CAD$10 million ($7.4 million USD), 10-year program for dredging six local channels in the municipalities of Richmond and Delta at the lower Fraser River in Ladner Harbour, Deas Slough, Sea Reach and Can­nery Channel. 


Wellstood said, “The local communities, particularly in the Delta, lobbied for a col­laborative approach to funding the significant dredging required to return these six channels to design grade (actually to sub-grade) and then provide funds to maintain them for the remainder of the term.” 


He also said local channels in Gunderson Slough, Shelter Island and Morey Channel have also been addressed through this program. 


In 2013 and 2014, more than 550,000 cu­bic meters (719,000 cubic yards)of sediment was removed from these channels. The vast majority, 400,000 cubic meters (523,000 cubic yards) was removed by cutter suction dredge with in-river dispersal. The remainder was re­moved with a clamshell dredge and went to an ocean disposal site. Another project later this year is expected to remove an additional 90,000 cubic meters (118,000 cubic yards). 
“The channels are surveyed annually after freshet to determine when and where next to dredge,” Wellstood said. 


The majority of the sand in the Fraser River is considered suitable for fill and pre-load. Wellstood said the port authority and its contractor try to place as much of the dredge material upland as possible. “Unfortunately, the same market is only so big, and therefore, on average we are only able to sell about half the volume that is dredged for navigation pur­poses,” Wellstood said. He also said in the past the port has added sand to the Mast Municipal Construction Document for use in pipe bed­ding and road sub-base. 


For what can’t be used beneficially, disposal at sea is permitted by Canadian law under Part 7, Division 3 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. Permit applications to load and dispose of material are reviewed and assessed by Environment Canada, and they are registered in an online public registry (www. ceaa-ceaa.gc.ca). British Columbia has 14 to­tal designated sites. 


Later this year, Pacific Coast Terminals will begin a dredging project of the navigation channel and turning basin. On December 30, 2016, Environchem Services Inc. was issued a permit, on behalf of Pacific Coast Terminals, to develop the Port Moody Channel dredg­ing project, near the existing terminal. The project to increase the depth of the channel from -10.5 meters (-34 feet) to -13.5 meters (44 feet) at low water, has been approved. The channel dredge area is approximately 150 me­ters (492 feet) wide and 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) long. The port authority deepened the area to -10.5 meters (-34 feet) in 1995. 


The upcoming project will remove about 550,000 cubic meters (719,000 cubic yards) of sediment and meets the criteria for disposal at sea. Imperial Oil Limited must remove two pipelines that cross the Port Moody Arm of the channel, before channel deepening can begin. 


PCT has proposed to use a hopper dredge for work in the shipping channel, a cutter suc­tion dredge for approaches to the deep-sea ter­minals and berths, and clamshell dredges for work alongside deep-sea berths. 

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