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

Lexi Bainas column: Singers, actors needed for thre exciting upcoming productions

‘The Winter’s Tale’, ‘Little Women’, and Mass for St. Cecilia are all calling: are you up for them?

Robert Barron column: Winter can be hard, but it brings back good memories

I would carefully poke the handle of the shovel through the snow until it bumped into a solid object

Andrea Rondeau column: What are your time capsule must-haves?

It would also be fun to include some pop culture mementos that represent our time.

Climbers compete for Choc and Chalk

Annual competition attracts more than 100

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in lingerie store

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

Na’moks said he was frustrated Horgan didn’t meet with the chiefs

Canucks extend home win streak to 8 with 4-1 triumph over Sharks

Victory lifts Vancouver into top spot in NHL’s Pacific Division

Most Read