What is dredging?

Dredging is the careful removal of sediment and debris from the bottom of a body of water, such as a river, lake, or harbour.  

Is the port authority responsible for dredging? 

As a Canada Port Authority, we ensure Canadian trade is moved safely through the federal waterways that make up the Port of Vancouver. Dredging the deep-sea channel of the Fraser River used by ships for international trade is one of the ways we support Canada’s trade objectives.  

Though we are not obligated to dredge smaller secondary channels along the Fraser River, we are participating in efforts alongside stakeholders and all levels of government to find a long-term, sustainable solution for local, secondary channel dredging that will protect the environment and benefit local communities.  

What dredging activities does the port authority lead? 

Requirements for dredging differ based on the nature of the waterway. Sometimes dredging is done only once to create a harbour or terminal berth in an open body of water, such as Burrard Inlet. At other times it is needed regularly, such as in the Fraser River where silt is deposited every spring when the snow melts. 

To help us fulfill our mandate to safely enable Canada’s trade through the Port of Vancouver, we lead an annual maintenance dredging program that focuses on the south arm of the Fraser River. As part of this program, we look at repurposing dredged materials for industrial use, environmental mitigation, and land creation and exchange—which helps ensure dredged materials are being used as a resource rather than becoming waste.