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Gibsons seeks $2 million for foreshore work

Gibsons will apply for a $2 million grant from the provincial Community Emergency Preparedness Fund for foreshore restoration from Armours Beach to the public wharf.
The Gibsons seawalk between Armours Beach and the public wharf.

Foreshore restoration and sewer line repairs from Armours Beach to the public wharf are estimated to cost $2.64 million, a staff report received at a Feb. 7 special Gibsons council meeting stated. An application for a $2 million grant to the provincial Community Emergency Preparedness Fund’s (CEPF) Disaster Risk Reduction – Climate Adaptation for part of that work got the go-ahead at the meeting.

With endorsement of the application, council also committed that the Town to covering its staff costs to manage the grant process along with any project spending over the approved grant amount.

The project proposal came forward as a result of an assessment of the foreshore between Armours and Atlee beaches completed in 2014. The resulting report showed that in the area of the proposed work, wharf erosion and damage from tidal flooding and wave action was occurring. It went on to forecast the situation would likely worsen as tide and storm events continue and intensify with climate change.

A two-part project

A CEPF decision on the application is anticipated by this summer, according to Town staff. The application is seeking the maximum dollar value available for such a project. If received, the money would be invested in plantings to stabilize the shoreline bank and to construct a raised pedestrian walking path. It would also cover project permit and design work, which could offset Town costs if it opts to keep and update sewer lines in that foreshore area.

The staff report noted that the line is deteriorating and is a source of infiltration into the wastewater treatment plant, but that costs related to sewer work would not be covered by the grant. It also confirmed Town reserves to cover an on-site rebuild estimated at $640,000 would be available for a 2024 construction start.

Council was given breathing room to consider that portion of the project, with a review of its five-year capital plan, which will include the proposal set for March.

Should sewer lines remain on the foreshore?

Also before the Town’s decision-makers is the alternative of relocating the collection line that provides sewer service to residences and businesses in the area. In discussion, Coun. David Croal reflected on community input received in 2019 on the upgrade of the Prowse Road lift station that questioned how long the Town should be maintaining a sewer line at sea level.

“While replacing the sanitary main in its current location would be the most cost-effective method, it should be considered that this would commit to keeping this piece of infrastructure in the foreshore, below the high-tide level. An alternative option would be to relocate the collection main to Marine Drive. While this solution would be significantly more costly, it would remove a critical piece of infrastructure from the coastal flood hazard area,” the staff report noted.

Director of infrastructure services, Trevor Routley estimated that the cost of relocating the line and completing subsequent repaving work on Marine Drive could cost in the range of $2 million. 

In the 2014 assessment report, it was noted that the goal of the Town’s foreshore redevelopment efforts is “to ensure the shoreline, associated infrastructure and adjoining development is properly protected from an anticipated sea level rise of about one metre,” by the year 2100.

“If climate change continues in the current direction, we will have to consider moving that line,” Croal stated.

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