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Final section of Stanley Park seawall reopens after storm damage repair

Click to play video: 'Vancouver’s damaged seawall a victim of its own popularity' Vancouver’s damaged seawall a victim of its own popularity
Work is well underway to repair Vancouver's storm-damaged seawall but much like the popular Grouse Grind on the North Shore, any closure signs around it are actively being ignored. Kamil Karamali reports – Jan 16, 2022

After months in repair, the last section of Stanley Park’s storm-battered seawall has reopened.

Members of the public are now free to roam between Vancouver’s Third Beach and Lions Gate Bridge, an area heavily damaged by extreme winds and a king tide on Jan. 7.

“This storm was unlike anything we had seen before,” said Dave Hutch, director of park planning and park development for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, in a Wednesday statement.

“We know how important the seawall is to our community with millions of visitors who use it every year, so repairing it quickly was of the highest priority for us.”

Read more: ‘Damage of a different order’: Seawall’s future unclear post-storm, says Vancouver official

The powerful winds, storm surge and unusually high tide rammed debris into the seawall, which collapsed in several areas in the 3.5-kilometre stretch between Second Beach and Lions Gate Bridge.

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The Vancouver Park Board said it repaired the damage on-site and used lock blocks to create retaining walls to prevent further erosion and damage. Stonemasons have rebuilt the stonework, while crews added capstones, reinforced concrete, and asphalt to damaged sections.

“Safety was also an important consideration as this was not a typical construction site,” said Hutch. “Access was sometimes difficult, weather-dependent, and required careful timing particularly in the tidal environment with additional king tides.”

Click to play video: 'Experts warn seawall damage sign of things to come amid sea level rise and climate change' Experts warn seawall damage sign of things to come amid sea level rise and climate change
Experts warn seawall damage sign of things to come amid sea level rise and climate change – Jan 9, 2022

King tides, which tend to be more pronounced in winter, occur when the sun and moon’s gravitational forces reinforce each other — periods when the moon is closest to the Earth. January’s storm submerged the Kitsilano Pool and Jericho Pier in addition to parts of the seawall.

The cost of repairs on the seawall is estimated to be $1.5 million, but in a written statement, Vancouver Park Board spokesperson Andrew Burns said costs are still coming in.

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“Some minor works (that will not impact public access to the seawall) are still being completed between Third Beach and Lions Gate Bridge, and at English Bay, which will be included in the total,” he wrote.

“Significant restoration efforts are still ongoing at Vanier Park, Kits Beach Park, and Spanish Banks and we will not have a total cost for all storm damage repair until that work is further along.”

Read more: Seawall damage a sign of things to come amid sea level rise and climate change, experts warn

The last estimate for repairing the Jericho Pier was $20 million and no estimate has been released for the pool. The park board said Wednesday an assessment is still underway, and expected to be complete by the end of May.

“Climate change is making storm events like those in November 2021 and January 2022 more frequent and severe,” said Hutch.

“The Park Board will be initiating conversations with residents about how we should plan for this uncertain future and how our waterfront parks, the seawall and beaches will adapt to our changing climate.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 4:07 p.m. to include new details about the cost estimate for work on the seawall.

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