Minister Jordan pushes forward with next phase of Big Bar landslide response

News release

January 17, 2020 - Kamloops, BC  – The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard, and Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister and Member of Parliament for Burnaby North-Seymour, met with the High Bar and Stswecem'c Xgat'tem Nations, and the Fraser Salmon Management Council yesterday. They also visited the Big Bar Landslide site.

Minister Jordan saw first hand the ongoing work to address the slide and reaffirmed that Peter Kiewit Sons ULC will be undertaking the extensive remediation efforts at the site through the winter months. The remediation work will include breaking up and removing rock debris from the landslide to improve passage for salmon and steelhead stocks during the upcoming migration season. This project will begin immediately and will continue through to the end of March 2020.

The Minister also announced two technical working groups of experts from governments, stakeholders, non-profit organizations, and academia, that will help inform comprehensive contingency and remediation plans for alternate fish passage methods and conservation-based enhancement. Additional options for safe fish passage are being developed in case the height or water velocity presents a barrier to certain salmon populations during the early part of the 2020 migration season.

The Big Bar Landslide, located on a remote section of the Fraser River, 64 kilometres north of Lillooet, British Columbia created a barrier to the vital seasonal northward Fraser salmon migration. It was the focus of an unprecedented emergency response over the summer of 2019, led through trilateral collaboration with federal, provincial and First Nations governments, supported by other agencies, stakeholder groups, and geotechnical and hydrological experts. This governance model will continue into 2020 as work continues on the Big Bar Landslide site.

Quotes

“We know how integral these salmon stocks are to our ecosystem and to the communities up and down the Fraser River. We’re moving swiftly with the next phase of our response, in collaboration with First Nations, the Province of BC, and industry partners, and are hopeful this will lead to a lasting solution for safe fish passage. With the establishment of two new technical working groups, it’s all hands on deck, as we continue working together to protect and restore the health of wild Pacific salmon stocks.”

The Honourable Bernadette Jordan
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Our government understands the urgency of this situation and is mobilizing resources to ensure work is done quickly and efficiently. The team at Peter Kiewit Sons ULC is doing challenging and important work, and I am confident in their ability to deliver this extensive winter remediation work. I commend such widespread collaboration on such a crucial issue for the region and for our Canadian ecosystem.”

The Honourable Anita Anand
Minister of Public Services and Procurement

“We are happy that work is now moving forward to help the fish move past the landslide, always keeping in mind worker safety.  It is important to recognize moving forward what we are doing together here can be an example of true government-to-government cooperation, if we do it right. “

Chief Roy Fletcher, High Bar First Nation

“We recognize a lot of people are relying on us to get this done. As First Nations, our identities rely on these salmon; we have a long shared history with both the salmon and the Fraser River itself. It is crucial this be done in partnership, and the Big Bar Landslide response is a good test for how government can recognize the rights, title and responsibilities of the Secwepemc Nation.”

Chief Harry Patrick, Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation

“Ensuring the long-term sustainability of British Columbia’s key salmon runs is a priority for the Province. This contract agreement will enable remediation work to take place while there is low water flow in the river, so we can improve passage for fish to reach their spawning grounds and give the best chance of survival to the fish stocks.”

The Honourable Doug Donaldson
Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Quick facts

  • DFO was notified of a landslide near Big Bar, British Columbia on June 23, 2019.

  • In early September trap and transfer, plus lower water levels combined with the partial re-establishment of natural fish passage, resulted in thousands of salmon migrating above the slide site.

  • Since October of 2019, when the emergency response transitioned to an ongoing project response, work has continued to prepare for major winter rock remediation work. A specialized excavator continued rock manipulation to improve access to the site, geotechnical and hydrological experts regularly monitored slope stability and water levels, engineering design work was undertaken, and archeological assessment work is underway in partnership with local First Nations.

  • On December 31, 2019, Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, awarded a contract of $17.6 million to Peter Kiewit Sons ULC for remediation work on the site. This work is expected to be substantially completed by the spring freshet, which is currently anticipated to take place in mid-to-late March 2020.

Associated links

Contacts

Cecely Roy
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast Guard
613-992-3474
Cecely.Roy@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
613-990-7537
Media.xncr@dfo-mpo.gc.ca


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