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Make way: $10-million deal to keep Fraser channels flowing freely

Some $10 million will be spent in the next decade keeping river channels in Richmond and Delta dredged, thanks to a joint effort funded by the City of Richmond, Port Metro Vancouver, the province and federal governments. Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie speaks at the podium, while, from left, Delta-Richmond East MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, B.C. Minister of Transportation Mary Polak, and Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap listen. - Martin van den Hemel photo
Some $10 million will be spent in the next decade keeping river channels in Richmond and Delta dredged, thanks to a joint effort funded by the City of Richmond, Port Metro Vancouver, the province and federal governments. Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie speaks at the podium, while, from left, Delta-Richmond East MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay, B.C. Minister of Transportation Mary Polak, and Richmond-Steveston MLA John Yap listen.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel photo

The inside channel that links Steveston harbour to the Fraser River will be kept free and clear for recreational and commercial boaters thanks to new dredging funding announced Monday morning.

Some $10 million has been committed to the project, funded by the City of Richmond, the province of B.C., Ottawa and Port Metro Vancouver in a decade-long deal.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie said the new funding will benefit all Richmond residents by keeping the waterways navigable and accessible by all boaters for years to come.

He noted two incidents in which vessels that use the Steveston channel became beached, including more recently, a tug boat, as well as the 188-foot tall ship Concordia in 2004.

Brodie said he doesn't recall the last time such a long-term commitment to dredging the waterways off Steveston was signed.

John Yap, MLA for Richmond Steveston, said this long-term financial commitment is good news for anybody who uses the waterways, or depends on it for the products they purchase or their livelihoods, such as the tourism industry.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said the dredging funding will directly help Ladner residents who have had to deal with silt that has built up for years on the vital waterway.

Delta-Richmond East MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay said she was proud to help secure the funding from Ottawa.

"Providing clear, safe, local navigation channels is enormously important to our communities," she said. "I am very proud to be a part of this collaborative team and to be part of this important initiative, which builds on the ongoing support of the Harper Government, to ensure safe access to small craft harbours across the country.

The proposed dredging will meet Transport Canada safe navigation requirements for the largest commercial fishing and recreational vessels that access these channels, according to the announcement.

Port Metro Vancouver became the first port authority in Canada to provide funding for local communities.

"Through Port Metro Vancouver's local channel dredging contribution program, I am pleased to commit $2.75 million toward this important collaborative project," said Port Metro Vancouver president Robin Silvester.

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