Much like a teenager’s face, the dredging of Steveston Channel requires constant attention.
Unfortunately, one area of the channel, in front of No. 1 Road, has been neglected for decades, resulting in an 8,500-cubic-metre pimple, or hump, of mud forming, with the potential of capsizing a boat at low tide.
“It’s a hump of mud in no-man’s land,” explained Robert Kiesman, chair of the Steveston Harbour Authority Board of Directors.
To remove this relatively small hump will cost $180,000, showing the scope of the costs of dredging the Fraser River.
The trapezoid-shaped hump is the size of about 100 shipping containers, spread across the channel floor. It’s a busy part of the harbour, with commercial, recreational and government boats docking nearby.
The area is said to be under no jurisdiction of any government, hence the growing problem.
“It’s more symbolic, as well, because it’s been a jurisdictional nightmare for 25 years and no one’s assumed responsibility for it. The reason why this is happening today is the province, city and harbour authority jointly, equally funded this,” said Kiesman.
“It’s not the local channel, it’s not a water lot, it’s just a hump in the middle of both of them that got lost . . . it’s a total grey area,” he added.
The hump’s removal is in addition to ongoing dredging of the eastern part of Steveston Channel, from Imperial Landing to Britannia Heritage Shipyards. All told, $1.35 million will be spent by the three groups to remove about 150,000 tonnes of sediment this winter.
“Funding dredging in Steveston Harbour has been an ongoing issue since the federal government downloaded responsibility for dredging as part of the 1998 Canada Marine Act,” noted a March 2016 city staff report.
“I’ve seen a lot of boats in my time run aground and someone’s finally showing leadership,” said Bob Baziuk, the harbour’s general manager.
The western channel was dredged earlier with funding from Port of Vancouver. This latest round of dredging has no monetary support from the port.
Over the past five years, the city has committed $2 million to dredging Steveston Channel.
Mayor Malcolm Brodie noted that yhe dredging is necessary for the city’s tall ships festivals this year, which will see the docking of a Japanese tall ship, the Kaiwo Maru, at Garry Point. The city paid $575,000 to bring the ship here in May.