Mission’s mayor wants to bring barge loading back to the waterfront and he will be asking city staff to look into the issue at the next council meeting on Monday, July 15.
The district’s waterfront industrial zoning currently doesn’t allow such use, but Mayor Ted Adlem believes giving businesses this tool will help create “good paying jobs” and improve the economy in the community.
He told The Record several people have expressed concerns about the bylaw, and there isn’t a particular business pushing for the change.
“We’ve been fighting for the river to be a form of transportation forever,” said Adlem, pointing out taking a barge full of logs down the river is one-tenth the cost of having a truck on the road.
Mission banned barge loading along the waterfront in 2007, but about a half dozen properties were grandfathered.
Property owner Steve Wynnyk, who represented the now-defunct Mission Manufacturers’ and Industrial Ratepayers’ Association opposed the restriction at the time, and is now “very happy” to work with the “progressive council”.
There are a lot of business opportunities along the Fraser for Mission, he noted.
On the Matsqui side, barges of aggregate are shipped to Vancouver, taking hundreds of trucks off the road, Wynnyk added. He estimates one barge is equal to 200 to 300 truckloads of gravel.
According to Wynnyk, there is already interest in creating a log-sorting facility near Chester Street, and reversing the bylaw will encourage more industrial business.
“Our Fraser River is totally under-utilized for river traffic,” he said.
Erv Mihalicz, manager of operations for Catherwood Towing, agrees.
“The Fraser River from New West to above the Mission Bridge is not even running at a shadow of its capacity,” said Mihalicz when asked about the impact of increased river traffic on his business.
Mihalicz said he was appalled the restriction was ever approved in the first place.
“At the end of the day, it costs our society in all kinds of tangible ways.”
Mihalicz explained it limits business development, employment opportunities, and negatively affects traffic on roads, and greenhouse gases.
Catherwood Towing is busy already with its day-to-day operations, but allowing barge loading will give the business a chance to grow and offer other services to clients, he said.