An Oct. 3 public meeting aims to shore up public opinion against the proposal to extend the seawall from Kits Beach to Jericho Park.
A geologist, a marine biologist, a birder and an engineer are scheduled to speak about the impact of a seawall extension on the foreshore and how they believe it would destroy the ecosystem. The Point Grey Natural Foreshore Protective Society organized the meeting.
Mel Lehan, one of its directors, said the group made a presentation to the park board this summer and took park commissioners on a tour.
“Some of them were really understanding and see now why they definitely don’t want it, but there’s still a few of them who can’t quite get it [into] their head that it’s a bad idea for the environment and for people,” he said.
“We are trying to raise the issue in a higher profile way and get more people involved and also get a dialogue going between the people who are concerned about this, the people who don’t know about it, and also between experts who understand the ecological implications.”
Jerry Dobrovolny, the city’s director of transportation, said city and park board staff have started looking into the seawall proposal.
“We’re meeting. We’re doing some preliminary work. We’ve gone out and done some site assessment,” he said, while adding that there’s no timeline for when staff will report back.
“We’re on the final stages of our transportation 2040 plan and the goal for that is to come back to council in the next month or so. So that sets the framework for moving forward on a whole variety of projects. That would take place first before any other report backs,” he explained.
Lehan, who noted both the park board and city council passed motions in the early 1990s supporting efforts to protect the foreshore, said he’s concerned about the environmental impact of a seawall extension and losing a “rural oasis” in the city.
“A lot of people don’t have cabins that they can go to get their hit of a natural foreshore….it’s not the same experience when you walk on Kits Beach as it is when you walk on what we call the Point Grey foreshore,” he said. “People see this as their opportunity within a big city to have this urban rural experience. We have a deep-seated need to have a rural experience even if we live in the heart of the city.”
Lehan said there are several entrances to the natural foreshore from pocket parks where the public can view the water or walk down to the beach, and that a portion of Point Grey Road could be turned into a cycling lane to create a continuous path for cyclists.
“It’s not like there’s not access down to the beach. It’s not like there’s not views and it’s not like there’s not a way to meet all the needs,” he said. “The argument is we’ve got 22 kilometres of high-intensity use on the foreshore. Surely we can have just a slight converse of that of low-intensity use for people who want a low-intensity experience for one-and-a-half kilometres,” he said.
The public meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at Kitsilano Yacht Club, Oct. 3.