State of the Beach/State Reports/BC/Beach Erosion

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Beach Erosion

Erosion Data

Although the province of British Columbia is endowed with an extensive coastline, erosion problems are rather uncommon relative to the amount of shoreline present. The coast of British Columbia is mainly composed of erosion resistant bedrock and as such relatively few beaches have been managed for erosion. Furthermore, many of the province’s coastal beaches are located in relatively sheltered areas such as small coves or fjords. There are, however, a number of these "small wave climate" beaches located near the more developed coastal communities that have experienced erosion and have required some protection/shoreline armoring. These areas include both Boundary Bay and Beach Grove in the municipality of Delta, the Crescent Beach area of the City of Surrey, several of the City of Vancouver Beaches, the bluffs at Point Grey and a number of short sections of beach on the east coast of Vancouver Island where homes were built with inadequate setbacks. The coastal erosion protection methods used have included flood walls, heavy rock revetments and rock/timber groynes. These structures are generally maintained by individual land owners, or in the case of flood protection dikes in Delta, Surrey and Vancouver the works are maintained by the municipalities themselves. There have also been significant coastal erosion issues on Savary Island near Powell River and on the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Hazard Avoidance Policies

In British Columbia, anyone who wishes to build structures in navigable waters must obtain approval from the federal government. However, the province recognizes the right of coastal property owners to protect their land from erosion or flooding by building embankments, dikes, or other protective improvements. Generally, waterfront property owners do not own that land which has been created by a sudden deposit of material by a flood or an artificial interference in natural processes or by an addition occurring as a result of natural uplift. The property owner does, however, own land that has accreted to the upland through gradual and imperceptible natural deposition. These circumstances can also work in reverse, when land is eroded and becomes part of the foreshore or bed. Furthermore, the government will not always authorize the construction of improvements or the addition of fill for purpose of protecting the property from erosion or flooding. Authorization may be denied if improvements will unduly affect public passage along the foreshore.

State of the Beach Report: British Columbia
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