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B.C., Shxw’ōwhámél ink deal to co-manage Fraser River debris trap

June 19, 2023 
By Avert staff



B.C.’s Emergency Management and Climate Readiness and the Shxw’ōwhámél First Nation signed a first-of-its-kind agreement to co-manage the containment barriers on the Fraser River.

The Fraser River debris trap has been run by B.C.’s emergency management department since 2011, and collects an estimated 100,000 cubic metres of woody debris, preventing it from damaging downstream infrastructure.

“This first-of-its-kind agreement is another step forward in advancing reconciliation with First Nations by recognizing and respecting the Shxw’ōwhámél’s jurisdiction, management, authority and responsibilities within its territory,” Bowinn Ma, B.C.’s minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, said in a news release. “The Fraser River Debris Trap is a vital component for preventing damage along the river and exploring economic opportunities, which are shared interests of the province and the Shxw’ōwhámél people.”

Under the agreement, the Shxw’ōwhámél First Nation takes on a stewardship role in operating the debris trap, located in the river alongside Shxw’ōwhámél reserve lands. The parties contract operations to Ventures-Dent LLP – a partnership between Shxw’ōwhámél Ventures and Jim Dent Construction.

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With woody material making up around 99 per cent of the volume captured by the debris trap, the province and First Nation are exploring potential uses, such as bioenergy. The Shxw’ōwhámél First Nation is also looking at building a longhouse with the merchantable timber.

“The Shxw’ōwhámél First Nation is happy to move forward side by side with the B.C. government to protect our environment for years to come,” said Irene Smith, responsible for emergency management, infrastructure and water for the Shxw’ōwhámél First Nation.

The province said in the release the trap prevents millions of dollars in damages each year related to the cleanup, repair and maintenance of boats, docks, bridges, riverfront infrastructure and wetlands habitat.

In the wake of the November 2021 atmospheric rivers, the debris trap captured large items such as recreational vehicles and large portions of residential sundecks.


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