State of the Beach/State Reports/BC/Beach Fill

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Beach Fill


Beach nourishment (a.k.a. beach fill) can be used to restore beaches and enhance both their recreational value and their utility in shore protection. Most of the public beaches in the City of Vancouver have been managed to limit longshore sediment transport and beach degradation. Thus, regular beach processes are controlled using constructed rock groynes, jetties and other shoreline structures. This need for management is mostly due to the limited sediment supply in Vancouver’s inner harbour. If it were not for these types of structures Vancouver would not likely have sandy beaches for public enjoyment today. Most of the work to build the upper intertidal beaches in Vancouver occurred in the 1960s and 1970s. This work consisted of building upland areas with general land fill and creation of traditional sand beaches at the intertidal margin.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has a mandate to maintain public and community beaches in order to uphold their recreational value. While DFO is also responsible for protecting fish and fish habitat across Canada, under the Fisheries Act no one may carry out a work or undertaking that will cause the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction (HADD) of fish habitat unless it has been authorized by DFO. As such, beach maintenance is conducted by replenishing existing beaches with new beach material, grading, and removing terrestrial vegetation that migrates onto the beach area. However, as beach maintenance efforts can result in potentially negative impacts to near shore fish habitat due to erosion of beach materials, removal of riparian vegetation beyond existing beach boundaries, and the introduction of deleterious substances from improperly maintained equipment, these methods are subject to a series of precautionary guidelines. These measures to protect fish and fish habitat when maintaining a beach are available here.


The beaches of Jericho and New Brighton are two examples of where this process has been used. Kerr Wood Leidal Associates Ltd. were the engineers contracted to work on these projects. Along Jericho beach, a setback in the form of buried riprap was constructed, riprap was moved to priority areas to protect natural sandy beaches and a backshore vegetation community was established. This development allows sand to move gradually into the site from the west around the pier structures. The only material brought on site, however, was the riprap. There was no sand or gravel brought on site to add to the natural beach area. This work was conducted in 2005 and 2006. The total riprap was in the order of 1000 m3. At New Brighton, there are small intertidal gravel beaches. Kerr Wood Leidal Associates Ltd. were tasked with protecting upland areas, which were historically fill sites. Their work involved diversifying the intertidal with sand planting areas for beach grass communities and creating more intertidal areas along some of the groyne features. Less than 100 m3 of sand was imported to the site. The projects were both successful based on their purpose to protect the natural sediment in place. However, regular visual monitoring is being conducted and repeat surveys have been done at Jericho historically and may be continued based on beach performance.

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