Overdue Rocky Point dredging to commence in February; launch and docks to close

Proposed dredge area (yellow) and sediment sample locations (blue). Port of Vancouver image.

The launch, docks and boat trailer parking lot are all set to be off-limits from Feb. 6 to Feb. 17 as overdue dredging begins at Rocky Point.

The closure is intended to allow workers space to haul out sediment around the shore area and navigation channel of the Port Moody Arm, according to a statement from the city.

Rocky Point Pier is also expected to be closed at irregular intervals, and delays may occur to the dredging schedule due to tide and weather conditions, the city stated.

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The boat ramp and docks are in a natural mud flat area. Sediment builds up naturally and has to be removed periodically to give boats more depth to dock in Port Moody’s shallow waters, and protect the docks infrastructure.  

Dredging the inlet also helps address environmental impacts to foreshore habitat, according to the city.

Over the past two decades, maintenance dredging has usually taken place every five years, but it last took place in 2016.

In 2022, the former council discovered that the cost of the project had tripled, from $250,000 to $750,000, after “persistent organic pollutants” were discovered in the mud.

The city initially anticipated the sediment could be dumped into the ocean; instead, it has to be shipped off to landfill.

The expense had to be past over the next year budget cycle.

A Port of Vancouver review of the project, which granted a permit last July, stated that 4,000 cubic metres of sediment will be dredged from the 7,400 square-metre area around the boat launch.

It noted that sediment quality testing, most recently completed in 2021, found polybrominated diphenyl ethers and dioxin furans – both toxic contaminants that are persistent in the environment.

Vancouver Pile Driving has been granted the contract by the city. They will use a clamshell budget to dig out the polluted sediment, dump it onto a barge before finally transporting it to a disposal site, the city said.

They added that environmental monitors will be in place.

Mud money

Typically, Rocky Point dredging has been funded by user fees paid by boaters. However, as that fund has been “fully depleted,” in 2022 city staff suggested paying for the project by dipping into the Community Amenity Contribution Reserve.

The reserve is generally meant to fund parks, public art, rec centres or pedestrian improvements through fees levied on developers in exchange for extra height or density on building projects.

Discussing the issue in 2022 when she was a councillor, Mayor Meghan Lahti suggested increasing the parking and launch fees paid by boaters to foot the bill for the dredging.

In 2021, Port Moody collected approximately $109,000 from boaters, according to city staff.

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