The Lower Fraser River stretches from the mouth of the Fraser to the beginning of the Fraser Canyon, at Hope:
3,475 m3 Average flow of water per second
20 Million Tons of sediment discharged into the sea annually
2.9 Million People living in the Fraser Basin (2/3 of British Columbians)
300,000 People living in the flood plain of the Lower Fraser River
1894 After a disastrous flood in 1894, river communities constructed a system of dykes. The last major flood was in 1948.
More that 20 provincial and federal ministries
Countless private and public stakeholders like environmental groups, recreational users, railways, port authorities and labour unions
The Fraser Basin and estuary supports rich habitats for a wide diversity of plant and animal life and may be best known for its fish population, including seven salmon species (Chinook, Sockeye, Coho, Chum, Pink, Steelhead and Cutthroat Trout) as well as sturgeon. The Lower Fraser River is also an important waterfowl breeding and overwintering site.
The Lower Fraser River is one of the largest estuaries in North America, where the salt water from the ocean and the river’s freshwater meet. As the river widens and slows down here it drops an enormous amount of sediment—about 20 MT per year.
FRIA and our members regularly consult with the Port of Vancouver, First Nations, government ministries, scientists and environmental groups to establish best practices to protect the river and its surrounding environment.
For thousands of years the Lower Fraser River has been vital to the Coast Salish Indigenous Peoples, who use the river for hunting, fishing, transportation and trade.
Over the past 200 years, the Lower Fraser River and its communities have also been a hub of industry and commerce. The river continues to play a key role in the development, growth and prosperity of Canada and BC.
The area and its 15 municipalities have long been a centre of agriculture, forestry, fishing, and many other commercial and recreational activities thanks to the surrounding transportation corridors and industrial land along the riverfront.
The fact that the Lower Fraser River remains healthy and viable, supporting a wide diversity of plants and animals, is testament to the responsible practices of businesses operating in and along the river.
If You Live In BC, The Lower Fraser River:
Powers your house
Stocks the shelves with consumer products you use every day
Brings you medical supplies
Delivers the automobiles you drive
Puts food on your table
Provides building materials for your community, home and business
Fuels the planes that move you around the globe
Heats your schools
Allows your manufactured and natural goods to reach the world
Today, the Lower Fraser River serves a wide variety of stakeholders and user groups. The following table and chart outline some of its many uses, and the percentage of use allocated to various activities.
- Transportation (via bridges and other infrastructure)
- Commercial shipping
- Recreational boating
- Water sports
- Commercial and sport fisheries
- Log storage
- Public transportation/ferries
- Float plane landing and takeoff
- Bird habitat and flyaway
- Salmon spawning
Foreshore activities and land uses
- Port activities
- Water-dependent and other industry
- Parks and beaches
- Residential and commercial development
- Heritage properties and historic sites
- Dykes and foreshore infrastructure
- Related archeological sites
The Lower Fraser River supports thriving local, provincial and national economies.
Businesses and industries that operate in and along the river:
- Employ local citizens
- Fund community amenities
- Provide a steady tax revenue stream
- Supply and support local businesses.
Economic activity along the entire Fraser River is worth $189.6 billion. This is 80% of the provincial GDP and 10% of the national GDP.
In 2016, trade activity on the Fraser River produced*:
- 55,500 family-supporting jobs
- $3.4 billion in wages
- $5.6 billion in GDP
- $12 billion in economic output
*Port of Vancouver Economic Impact Study, 2016
Port facts and comparisons
The Lower Fraser River is part of the Port of Vancouver:
- Canada’s largest and busiest port
- Fourth largest tonnage port in North America
- Trades with more than 160 world economies
- Facilitates trade of $202 billion in goods every year*
- Canada’s main gateway to the Pacific
On its own, the Lower Fraser River port would be the third largest port in Canada by all measures—export, import and domestic tonnage.
The Lower Fraser River rivals the St. Lawrence Seaway for size and economic impact and is as important to BC’s economy as the St. Lawrence is to Ontario and Quebec. Take a look at the bars on the right to see how the Lower Fraser River compares to the St. Lawrence Seaway between Montreal and Lake Ontario for Canadian traffic.**
*Port of Vancouver Economic Impact Study, 2016
**The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, Annual Report 2011-2012 ‘Delivering Economic Value,’ accessed January 17, 2014