Shoreline Protection a Vital Component for Continued Health of West Vancouver Beaches

Metro Vancouver Close Up logoWest Vancouver’s shoreline is a vital component of the community. Now shoreline protection is ensuring its long-term health. See how issues like climate change, sea level rise, storm surges, and wildlife habitat are addressed through careful planning.

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 1.20.01 PMIt may look calm but changes are underway on West Vancouver’s shoreline as part of their first ever Shoreline Protection Plan which outlines ways to engineer nature, such as adding boulders like these.
“Having a natural buffer is the best protection from storm events and sea level rise,” says Adrian Rowland of the West Vancouver Shoreline Preservation Society. “As opposed to rip-rap and rock and concrete.”

In recent decades, urbanization has hardened the shoreline in a way that impacted many stream connections and intertidal habitats. Many citizens noticed.

“The Shoreline Protection Plan was originally drafted with a volunteer engineering advisory committee years ago in 2005,” explains Rowland. “(It) formed the foundation for the ongoing plan which continues today.”

Public input drove the change according to West Vancouver Councillor Trish Panz.

“We had citizens really push us to say, we need to do better, and that strategic long-term plan and action plan was put into play.”

Sandra Bicego

One focus of the plan relates to climate change and possible storm surges. Sandra Bicego, Manager of Environment & Sustainability for the District of West Vancouver explains their approach.

“When waves and storms come in, and as the sea may rise in 100 or 200 years, we are working with nature to bring some rocks in, reefing in, and that will help catch the sediment.”

Rowland says retaining sediment also helps with another goal of the plan — to create natural habitat for fish and wildlife.

TSR Ep1 2015 COMBO MVCU -Stereo.00_07_30_07.Still021“Working with nature to bring the sediments down from the mountaintops, deliver them to the beach and have them build a strong, wide buffer that’s good for fish habitat, bird habitat to people habitat, and infrastructure protection all at the same time is the best of all worlds.”

The plan has already guided work at several locations, with more sites identified. Residents are also invited to contribute funds.

“The real challenge here is to keep these initiatives going for the long-term,” says Adrian Rowland. “Because the shoreline needs a continuous effort.”

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