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Updated: Feds invest $17 million in Steveston small craft harbour improvements

Twenty-six B.C. harbours are receiving federal funding
Harjit Sajjan was at Steveston Harbour Tuesday to announce funding for small craft harbours.

The federal government is investing $17 million to improve the Steveston Small Craft Harbour.

This will allow the harbour authority to make safety improvements at the wharf at 3rd Avenue and Bayview Street including improvements to fire protection, basin dredging and electrical repairs.

The Steveston Harbour Authority (SHA) has been working for seven years to become the “hub of B.C.’s commercial fishing industry,” explained Jaime Gusto, SHA general manager at an announcement Tuesday.

While the salmon fishery has been closed this year, Gusto said there are other industries like prawn and crab that continue to operate.

“We are working to build infrastructure to support each and every one of them,” Gusto said.

In 2019, an ice plant at the end of Trites Road to service the fishers was completed and a trawling net manufacturer was established, now home to CanTrawl Nets, just a short walk from the Gulf of Georgia Cannery.

At the time, SHA chair Robert Kiesman said CanTrawl’s facility was being designed so people could look through large picture windows as fishers make and mend their nets, after learning about the history of fishing and net-making at the cannery museum.

Nearby, an 80-year-old heritage cannery has been converted into Organic Ocean’s packaging and distribution centre.

Last month, non-profit Ocean Legacy Foundation unveiled its new facility in the harbour, near CanTrawl Nets, which will recycle ocean plastics – one of the first facilities of its kind in Canada.

The aim of establishing Steveston as the fishing hub was set by SHA board of directors in 2014.

“My goal is (that) anytime anyone in this country mentions or thinks or hears about the fishing industry, they think of Steveston,” Kiesman told the Richmond News in 2019.

The SHA goal is two-fold: to provide the facilities that foster a healthy and diverse commercial fishing industry while honouring Steveston’s rich history and tourism business.

With the boats, docks, property and storage at Steveston Harbour, the SHA resolved to consolidate various fishing and fishing-related businesses scattered around the Lower Mainland and B.C. into one spot.

Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, Liberal MP for Vancouver South, was in Steveston making the funding announcement.

It’s highly anticipated the federal government is planning to call a federal election for October.

Steveston is one of 26 small craft harbours on the West Coast to receive funding – total funding is $50 million.

- with files from Kirsten Clarke