EMBC ditches gravel removal

'Every jaw dropped' when decision announced says Agassiz mayor

After years of debating gravel removal in the Fraser River as a potential way to reduce flood risk, Emergency Management B.C. has stated the idea is no longer on the table.

Kent Mayor John Van Laerhoven said that jaws hit the floor in a recent LMLGA river management meeting where EMBC announced it was not considering any gravel removal from the Fraser in 2014. EMBC attended that meeting via teleconference.

“They said they’re taking a new direction,” he said. “Every jaw dropped in the room.”

He said it also seems as if gravel removal is off the table for the “foreseeable future.”

“Hopefully at the next meeting they’ll actually be there,” he said. “This issue is by no means resolved.”

While many have railed against gravel removal, the District of Kent has long lobbied for it as a way to mitigate flood risk.  Removal has been slowing down in recent years, and gravel bars are filling up the waterways along the District’s edges, both in the Fraser and Harrison rivers.

The Fraser River Gravel Stewardship Committee has publicly stated that excavating gravel from the Chilliwack stretches of the river would “severely disrupt” fish habitat.

Van Laerhoven said that fish do not thrive in the shallow waters created by the gravel, as noted by First Nations leaders. He said the District of Kent will continue to advocate for gravel removal, as well as advocating for representation of First Nations leaders on the technical committee.

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