Oak Bay hopes to ward off another disaster like the one that saw a part of Beach Drive sink into the ocean.
“Several years ago part of Beach Drive collapsed into the ocean. We had to shore that up and redo the road,” said Oak Bay Mayor Christopher Causton. Council doesn’t want to take the chance of that happening again.
This week council heard a report warning of foreshore erosion in McNeill Bay that will occur within the next two decades. A 200-metre stretch of McNeill Bay that is not protected by a seawall, west of St. Patrick Street, is subject to natural erosion.
“We felt we should investigate how fast the erosion is happening,” said Causton.
“When you’re talking about infrastructure, most people think of underground, but you have to look at above-ground as well. We are a waterfront community and with climate change and high tide, we’re looking at gradual erosion and we need to be aware of it and set aside funds.”
McNeill Bay gets the full force of the weather from the south.
An engineering report showed the rate of erosion to be slow, but costly.
“With the rate of erosion we’re looking at about 12 years,” said Causton. “It’s something we have to put aside for. You have to plan about five years out. It takes time to talk to the government, fisheries – it’s going to cost around $900,000 in today’s dollars – that’s the cost today – so it will be $1.3, $1.4 million and it’s only one 200-metre area. That gives you some idea of the concern.”
The report states that erosion will be at a point that it will have to be dealt with between 12 and 38 years from now.
“Erosion is ongoing,” said Dave Marshall, director of engineering services for Oak Bay. “Figuring out just when we are going to have to deal with it is not an exact science … the soonest is a dozen years out, but we will have to start work on designs and permits in about five years.”
Natural erosion took a toll on private property in the Uplands last year, causing part of it to drop away into the sea, said Causton. It’s a liability the municipality has to be prepared for.
Oak Bay has $220,000 set aside to deal with erosion now, but is preparing for the big financial hit it will take protecting the McNeill Bay foreshore.
“We instructed staff to continue to save money – maybe at a faster rate and put it in the budget,” said Causton.
East of McNeill Bay at Kitty Islet there is erosion in conjunction with an old sewage outfall pipe. “We had engineering take a look at it – just a scan, not a study,” he said.
The municipality is now starting work on a plan to monitor erosion in the area.
“One recommendation is to divert a storm drain which will cost about $75,000, which will probably be done next year,” said Causton.