Town works to protect waterfront

Qualicum Beach staff work to install a greenshores-friendly system to     protect the waterfront.                    Neil Horner photo -
Qualicum Beach staff work to install a greenshores-friendly system to protect the waterfront. Neil Horner photo
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The Town of Qualicum Beach is taking a pro-active approach to global warming and sea level rise in a project to protect the waterfront, says engineer Bob Weir.

This month, town workers began installing what Weir called a soft shore stabilization system at an area near the Shady Rest Pub, where erosion has come dangerously close to Highway 19A.

“It’s a pilot project for us,” Weir said. “This is an area that has a lot of attack, depending on the storm front and the water main has almost been exposed a couple of times and the highway is threatened.”

The technique, he said, involves anchoring large logs on top of what he called a blanket of ballast rock and natural gravel sand, in the expectation that littoral drift will deposit more sand in behind them, building up the shore in a relatively natural manner.

“We want nature to do the heavy lifting for us,” he said.

“Instead of having trucks and trucks and trucks of material come in and try to build it up, we are trying to do a softer intervention. Rather than the storm fronts coming in and washing material away, hopefully, the littoral drift will deposit it where we have the cabled wood and we can even get some revegetation.”

He noted however that large rocks are also being used as a last line of defence to protect the roadway.

“If this doesn’t work, at least the water main is protected,” he said. “If it does work, we want to roll it out for the rest of the waterfront.”

The project, at approximately $35,000, is significantly less expensive than building a hard breakwater, he said.

“A hard engineering intervention would be extraordinarily expensive,” he said. “We have a lot of hard walls and that doesn’t encourage natural beach formation. This may be a way of starting early and getting nature to do it over a longer period of time.”

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