Fraser River cleanup comes to Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge

The rusted and rotted hulls of old boats and docks along the Fraser River are gradually being cleaned up, including several sites...

The Fraser River Improvement Initiative is a five-year

The Fraser River Improvement Initiative is a five-year

The rusted and rotted hulls of old boats and docks along the Fraser River are gradually being cleaned up, including several sites in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.

Sandi Case of Port Metro Vancouver, vice-president of human resources and labour relations, appeared before Pitt Meadows council last week and said her group is in the process of removing 16 derelict vessels from a water lease held by Katzie First Nations.

John Parker-Jervis, media and government affairs advisor for Port Metro, said the Fraser River Improvement Initiative is a five-year, $2 million initiative that has identified 151 sites where there are sunken or abandoned boats or dilapidated infrastructure, in an area from the mouth of the Fraser to the boundary at approximately Kanaka Way in Maple Ridge.

So far 118 of them have been addressed.

Eighteen of those sites are in Pitt Meadows or Maple Ridge, and so far the port authority has addressed eight of them.

Some of the problem sites are navigational hazards for boards, environmental hazards, public safety risks, and are often pollution and eyesores.

In most cases, the port authority reaches out to the owner to perform the clean-up, and that is “the desired outcome.”

But in many cases, Port Metro has the legal authority to remove the problem boat or structure if the owner refuses.

Due to confidentiality rules with lease holders, he could not speak about specific sites or problems, but said work is slated along Wharf Street in Maple Ridge in the near future.

Katzie First Nations Chief Susan Miller said 14 vessels have been successfully removed from the band’s waterfront, but two have become so imbedded in the river bank that to remove them would cause problems, so they will likely be left as “part of the river bed.”

She said it has created more usable space on the shoreline, and the next step will be replacing the Katzie dock with one that is slightly longer.

The band has informed its members that boats that are no longer seaworthy must be removed from the shoreline in future, said Miller.

In 2008, three port authorities – Fraser River, North Fraser and the Port of Vancouver – combined to create Port Metro Vancouver, which manages 300 km of shoreline in the region.