Dredging for larger vessels

Does the port authority plan to further dredge the Fraser River to accommodate larger vessels?

The Fraser River is increasingly important to Canada’s trade and is already a busy trade corridor that is as economically critical to Canada as the St. Lawrence Seaway in eastern Canada.

Under the Canada Marine Act, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is mandated to ensure products are shipped safely and in support of Canada’s trade objectives, while protecting the environment and considering the interests of local communities. We are responsible for the stewardship of federal port lands and waters in and around Vancouver, British Columbia – a region that is growing in both population and trade activity.

In 2016, we did an analysis of the Fraser River and its potential to accommodate increasing trade with Asia. The analysis considered a variety of possible uses of existing port lands and assessed dredging the river at different depths, and it was determined that deepening the Fraser River would be extremely costly, requiring extensive environmental study and consultation over many years.

As a result, the port authority has no plans to deepen the channel to accommodate larger vessels on the Fraser River within the foreseeable future. The river, as it is now and using existing terminals and port lands, can meet trade demand for decades to come. We will continue to conduct maintenance dredging of the river to safeguard navigation and flood prevention and meet Transport Canada’s safe navigation requirements.

Our plan is to focus on accommodating trade growth by intensifying activity at existing terminals so as to get the most use out of them, and by developing our industrial lands, consistent with our Land Use Plan.

As the port authority, it is our responsibility to balance the growth in trade with the need to protect our environment and respect the quality of life of our neighbours. Dredging is one of the many ways we are meeting our mandate every day.