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

Just Posted

Cariboo-Prince George candidates give take on drugs, crime

Answers revolved around affordable housing and getting to the root cause of the problem

Forestry Ink: Replanting badly battered forest landscapes in B.C.

Regular columnist Jim Hilton writes about the potential for using drones in tree planting

Upcoming Sarah Hagen concert combines classical music, student artwork and The Story of Babar

This show opens the Quesnel and District Community Arts Council Children’s and Family Concert season

Fall at the Quesnel Farmers’ Market

The second-to-last outdoor market of the season featured the annual Giant Pumpkin Contest

Quesnel Community Living Association launches Empties 4 Abilities program

There are three new donation bins around the community

VIDEO: Trudeau plays defence in Maritimes today while Scheer fights for seats in Quebec

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party has been on the rise in recent polls, is campaigning in Toronto

In the news: Sprinting to the election finish line and anger amid Manitoba storms

First Nations residents forced to evacuate their Manitoba homes after a recent snowstorm

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

Most Read