Tsawwassen Eelgrass Project

Current status

The proposed Tsawwassen Eelgrass Project is currently in the design, permitting and approvals stage. Completion of the regulatory review of the project is anticipated by late summer 2018.

Work to come

Due to additional time required for the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority to secure the remaining access and project approvals for the Tsawwassen Eelgrass Project, construction will not commence during the 2017 least-risk work window for Roberts Bank.  The earliest that construction could commence on the proposed Tsawwassen Eelgrass Project, pending final agreements and approvals, is now late summer 2018. Updates will be provided as the project moves forward.

The project team is engaging and will continue to engage Aboriginal groups, stakeholders and regulators, and will notify the public of project updates, as appropriate. The proposed project may change based on further consultation and technical input.

About the project

Eelgrass meadows at Roberts Bank near Delta, British Columbia.

The proposed Tsawwassen Eelgrass Project consists of two sites located south of the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal near Delta, British Columbia.

The subtidal (below water) sites are bordered to the north by a recreational boating channel and are surrounded by eelgrass meadows to the south and east.

The sites currently consist of subtidal depressions which were likely created as a result of maintenance activities in the adjacent recreational boating channel. These depressions are too deep to be naturally colonized by eelgrass.

The proposed project would result in the conversion of lower-value subtidal areas into higher value eelgrass habitat. The total area of habitat enhancement is approximately four hectares.

Creation of these eelgrass beds would be accomplished by constructing rock containment berms followed by the placement of suitable substrate material and transplanting of eelgrass.

Proposed sites for the Tsawwassen Eelgrass Project

Rationale for the project

The proposed sites were selected for eelgrass restoration because of their current relatively low habitat values. Consistent with the broader understanding of eelgrass habitats in the Pacific Northwest, local studies suggest that fish communities within eelgrass habitats are more diverse and abundant than fish communities within areas devoid of eelgrass.

Eelgrass provides:

Eelgrass provides important habitat for fish and wildlife.
  • important habitat for fish and wildlife including juvenile salmon, Pacific herring, Dungeness crab, migrating Brant geese, bivalves, shrimp, and sea stars
  • refuge and nurseries for juvenile fish and invertebrates
  • support for a number of other critical ecological functions including nutrient cycling, protection of shorelines from storms, export of organic matter, and carbon storage

The rock containment berms proposed for construction of the eelgrass beds also provide attachment sites for various kelp species, which would contribute to an increase in the diversity of fish and wildlife at the project sites.

Project timeline

Resources

September 2017 – Project overview: Tsawwassen Eelgrass Project [PDF]
May 15, 2017 – Consideration report: Tsawwassen Eelgrass Project [PDF]
May 15, 2017 – Consultation summary report: Tsawwassen Eelgrass Project [PDF]
March 20, 2017 – Discussion guide and feedback form: Tsawwassen Eelgrass Project [PDF]
May 2015 – Ecological conditions report: Tsawwassen Eelgrass Project [PDF]