Jeff Scott chairs the Fraser River Industrial Association and is president and CEO of Fraser Surrey Docks. (Submitted)

COLUMN: Environmental stewardship essential for Fraser River productivity

Jeff Scott chairs the Fraser River Industrial Association and is president of Fraser Surrey Docks

Sept. 22 marks World Rivers Day, an opportunity to celebrate the waterways that have played – and continue to play – a critical role in our local economy.

Extending from the Pacific slopes of the Rocky Mountains all the way to the Salish Sea, the Fraser River is not only British Columbia’s longest river, but one of its most economically productive.

Since it was famously traversed by Simon Fraser in the early 19th century, the “Mighty Fraser” has been central to B.C.’s development – the first fur trading posts, gold rush, and salmon canneries all emerged along this strategically important waterway.

Today, the river continues to support local businesses in Surrey and across the region. Flanked by major railways, roadways, and terminals in the Port of Vancouver, the Fraser serves as a key conduit for commerce and driver of the economy.

RELATED: Federal court kills bid to stop coal transfer facility at Surrey docks

It supports more than 55,000 jobs, with total economic activity along it accounting for a staggering 80 per cent of total provincial GDP and a full tenth of our national GDP. On its own, Lower Fraser River port operations would be the third largest in Canada by all measures – import, export and domestic tonnage.

While the Fraser’s economic impact is significant, we cannot take it for granted. If we want to preserve the economic prosperity afforded by this river, it’s crucial we protect it through proactive environmental stewardship.

On this front, our local port authority, the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority has proven to be a leader, recently concluding a two-million-dollar, five-year effort to remediate more than 150 sites along the river, including derelict vessels and structures that pose a risk to surrounding wildlife and the environment.

Advocating for more ecosystem-enhancing initiatives like these is a key priority of the Fraser River Industrial Association – a representative body of marine-dependent businesses operating around the Lower Fraser River that I am proud to chair and support through Fraser Surrey Docks.

To protect the Fraser’s ecosystem – which houses sturgeon and seven species of salmon – the group’s members work alongside First Nations, government ministries, scientists and environmental groups to spearhead initiatives geared at enhancing and protecting the overall ecology of the river.

For instance, at Fraser Surrey Docks, we pioneered the use of more energy-efficient hybrid locomotives for switching and are in the process of modernizing our fleet of vehicles with cleaner engines. Our terminal has installed more efficient lighting and ventilation systems onsite to help reduce consumption. And we are also proud of our Green Marine certification, which is awarded to maritime organizations that achieve the highest levels of environmental performance.

Seaspan, another member, has introduced new hybrid ferries, uses environmentally friendly hydraulic fluids for equipment operating near the water, and offers shore power systems at its terminals to help reduce vessel idling time and emissions. The company was recently recognized with a Blue Circle award from the port authority for environmental innovation and improvements.

READ MORE: Permit cancelled for coal transfer project at Fraser Surrey Docks

Taking this kind of sustainable approach to growth is crucial to preserving the Fraser River, which has and continues to play a crucial role in the economic and ecological vitality of our region. As we celebrate these critical waterways worldwide, the Mighty Fraser offers a model for how public, private, non-profit, and Indigenous groups can come together to create and maintain a working river.

Jeff Scott is the chair of the Fraser River Industrial Association, the representative voice of businesses that operate along the Lower Fraser River. He is also president and CEO of Fraser Surrey Docks.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Enderby’s drive-in not safe from top doc’s 50-car limit

Starlight Drive-In opened with reduced capacity, COVID-19 safety measures in place

COVID-19: Parking lot patios a go in Vernon

Council votes in favour of allowing businesses to expand commercial space into on-street parking spots

Vernon gym knocked out by COVID-19

9Round Fitness in Vernon Square Mall owners announce permanent closure of facility

North Okanagan regional district board delays food scraps ban

Move is to help businesses and organizations during pandemic

2019 payroll costs City of Vernon $26M

City discloses remuneration report and CAO is top earner

Video: Okanagan mayors encourage water conservation this summer

Water conservation this summer could be more important than ever, experts say

Shuswap cabin owner disputes request to stay home in Alberta

Alberta resident redrafts response to CSRD request to stay home

Petition seeks to clean up Okanagan forests ‘carpeted’ with shotgun shells

Penticton man says making shot-gun shells refundable would create cleaner forests

Kelowna’s main drag will be closed to vehicles this summer

Kelowna’s Bernard Avenue will be a pedestrian-only roadway from June 29 through the Labour Day long weekend

Snapshot: Distanced dancing in Salmon Arm

Friends use picnic shelter at Blackburn Park for safe practice

Kelowna’s Homebase Baseball Tournament cancelled

A live auction will still take place to raise funds for Joeanna’s House

Kelowna General Hospital Foundation launches fundraising initiative to support local health care

The initiative also highlights workers at Kelowna General Hospital

Kelowna man charged with harming a hamster

The 20-year-old Kelowna man faces several animal cruelty charges

High tech fish transport system set up to ‘whoosh’ salmon past Big Bar landslide

Fish will spend roughly 20 seconds inside the system, moving at roughly 20 metres per second

Most Read