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Resident concerned beaches are going bye-bye

The entrance and part of the breakwater at French Creek Marina. - JOHN HARDING PHOTO
The entrance and part of the breakwater at French Creek Marina.
— image credit: JOHN HARDING PHOTO

The beach at Eaglecrest is disappearing and Qualicum Beach will follow suit, says resident Jim Cross.

A breakwater shaped like a hook at French Creek Marina may be to blame, said Cross, who has owned his property in Eaglecrest since 1987.

"It was pretty much all sand on Eaglecrest (beach) in those days," said Cross.

He said he's not satisfied by the responses he's been getting to questions he has posed to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

"In 2008 we started to worry about the beach," said Cross. "The sand was going away and more and more rocks were showing. But the dramatic change came a couple of years ago (when the hook-shaped breakwater was built)."

Cross said sediment moves with the storms of the Strait of Georgia, generally coming from the southeast and pushing up Island. During those storms, "you can just watch the stuff (sediment) go by," says Cross.

"But as they kept changing the breakwater, we believe they changed the flow of sediment to the beach."

Cross started writing letters to marina management and the DFO a couple of years ago. While he has received some reports from the DFO about the marina and sediment flows, he said he has not been educated in relation to the reasoning for the construction of the hook-shaped breakwater that he believes is causing Eaglecrest's beach to disappear.

He said he can only surmise the reason the breakwater was built in that fashion was to capture sediment so the entrance to the marina remained navigable.

“Why the marina built the hook is a complete mystery,” said Cross.

The DFO, specifically Program Officer Katie Rattan, did respond to Cross’ queries and supplied him with some reports, including one from 2007 that indicated the breakwater project is “not likely to result in significant adverse environmental effects” and one from 2009 that indicates “no net sediment sediment transport is passing southward from the harbour entrance or northward from the south breakwater.”

“Based on these studies and available information, we are not aware of any significant impact on beach erosion that would result from the breakwater project,” Rattan wrote in a Nov. 20, 2013 e-mail to Cross.

Rattan also steered Cross to town hall for answers.

“The beach erosion at Qualicum Beach is being reviewed and addressed locally and we suggest that you engage with your local municipal office to follow-up with your concerns,” wrote Rattan.

The town recently contracted SNC Lavalin to complete the first phase of a Waterfront Master Plan. In a letter to Cross, SNC Lavalin’s John Readshaw indicated the company will be looking at beach erosion issues as part of its study, but Readshaw also said the company did not have the mandate in this study to make recommendations regarding land or foreshores outside the boundaries of Qualicum Beach.

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