Recent storms and seawall damage highlight need for alternatives

A storm damaged seawalls and properties in Qualicum Beach on Jan. 7, 2022. || Town of Qualicum Beach photo
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Storm damage to seawalls and properties in Qualicum Beach has highlighted the importance of alternative mitigation strategies such as green shore projects.

“It was pretty apparent that the seawall design really doesn’t work that well. Numerous ones got undermined and some got destroyed,” said Mayor Brian Weise during Qualicum Beach Council’s Feb. 2 regular meeting.

Green shores projects restore the natural movement of water and sediment that maintain a healthy shoreline and add native vegetation and habitat for fish and wildlife. They are also meant to make shorelines more secure against erosion and flooding, according to the Stewardship Centre for B.C. The town is a member of the Green Shores Local Government Working Group.

“When we harden the shoreline, we really preclude organisms and plants and everything advancing upland as water levels rise and so you kind of squish that intertidal zone,” said Kelly Loch, Green Shores projects coordinator for the Stewardship Centre for B.C., who presented during the meeting. “We see Qualicum Beach as being a leader in green shores and nature-based solutions.”

The project will be monitored at three and five year intervals to see how it fares against several winter storm seasons, Loch said.

Having a green shore, rather than a seawall, can also benefit homeowners and other users of the shoreline, according to Loch. “People can use their shoreline more effectively and bring their kayak down, or bring their grandkids down.”

After numerous properties on Judges Row were damaged by a winter storm last month, the town sent a letter out to property owners and invited them to a meeting next week where a neighbourhood scale project will be discussed, according to Luke Sales, the town’s director of planning.

The town is also considering a grant application later this year for a large scale infrastructure project related to the shoreline, according to Coun. Scott Harrison.

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