Port Metro Vancouver is Canada’s largest port. To provide safe navigation along its shipping routes and allow commercial vessels access to Port facilities, dredging is often done to maintain appropriate water depths. One of the key shipping channels is the Fraser River deep-sea channel but during the snowpack melt each year, water, sand and silt drain into the lower Fraser River making the riverbed shallower. This movement of solid particles in the water is a naturally occurring geomorphological process called ‘sediment transport’, and causes river infilling that has implications for Port operations.
To balance the amount of infill and maintain the shape of the riverbed, Port Metro Vancouver removes approximately 3.5 million cubic metres of sand from the Fraser River deep-sea channel on an annual basis, an operation that is monitored by the Fraser River Estuary Management Program.
The title of this installation, Sediment Transport, refers to the natural erosional process of sand movement in river water, but also alludes to one of the Port’s functions: transporting goods. Approximately half of the dredged sand is pumped upland and sold, therefore the sand becomes one of the commodities that Port Metro Vancouver transports. Sediment Transport hence refers to both natural and anthropological processes and operations.
This installation is a representation of the 3.5 million cubic metres of sand that Port Metro Vancouver dredges each year from the Fraser River. It is composed of 3,500 containers of Fraser River sand, with each container symbolizing 1,000 cubic metres of dredged sand.