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Vancouver Fraser Port Authority confirms there are no plans to deepen the Fraser River

May 25, 2017

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority announced today that it has no plans to further deepen the Fraser River to accommodate larger vessels as it, together with existing marine terminal properties and port industrial lands, can sufficiently handle Canada’s trade for the foreseeable future.

The port authority maintains, on behalf of the federal government, a 36-kilometre-long, deep-sea navigation channel in the south arm of the Fraser River, which is designed to accommodate two-way traffic of vessels that fit within the size restrictions of the channel.

The port authority continuously monitors trends in global ship sizes relative to the size of vessel that can be accommodated. Commercial ships are increasing in size because it is more economical and environmentally responsible to run larger vessels. However, there are limitations to the Fraser River that restrict its ability to accommodate larger ships including height, depth and width restrictions.

Recently, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority completed an analysis of the Fraser River and its potential to accommodate increasing trade. 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.

“We have determined that with more intensive use of the port’s existing terminals and further development of the port authority’s existing industrial lands along the water, the Fraser River will be well positioned to accommodate Canada’s growing trade without deepening the channel, said Peter Xotta, vice president, planning and operations at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.”

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority owns about 200 acres of undeveloped industrial land on the river, which is expected to be used in future by commercial operators for major terminals, warehousing and distribution. The port authority intends to use its current land holdings as efficiently as possible through proper planning and collaboration with others in the supply chain, such as railroad companies and terminal operators.

Shippers will continue to use vessels of various sizes to ensure the safe navigation of commercial traffic along the river and the environmental protection of the river’s ecosystem. The port authority will continue its program of dredging to maintain current channel depths.

Further information

  • Audio Quote [MP3]: Peter Xotta, vice president, planning and operations at the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority
  • Backgrounder: Future of the Fraser River [PDF]

About the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is responsible for the stewardship of the federal port lands in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. It is accountable to the federal minister of transport and operates pursuant to the Canada Marine Act. The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest, and the third largest in North America by tonnes of cargo, facilitating trade between Canada and more than 170 world economies. Located in a naturally beautiful setting on Canada’s west coast, the port authority and port terminals and tenants are responsible for the efficient and reliable movement of goods and passengers, integrating environmental, social and economic sustainability initiatives into all areas of port operations. Enabling the trade of approximately $200 billion in goods, port activities sustain an estimated 100,000 supply-chain jobs, $6.1 billion in wages, and $9.7 billion in GDP across Canada.

Media contact:

Danielle Jang
Media Relations Advisor

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