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

By Curious

The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority announced Thursday 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.

Vancouver Fraser Port Authority confirms there are no plans to deepen the Fraser River
Caption: Fraser Surrey Docks - Image courtesy of Port Metro Vancouver

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.

Source: Port Vancouver