Coastal Resilience Project

Gibsons’ foreshore provides a vital seawall to protect the waterfront from storm surges and sea level rise, both of which are the ongoing and now-unavoidable consequences of climate change.

Engineered alternatives would be required if the foreshore became degraded, with associated capital and operating costs likely to far exceed what is required to keep the foreshore in good health.

The Coastal Resilience Project developed and tested a Coastal Toolbox (CT) to determine how enhancing coastal natural assets like subtidal eelgrass, coastal vegetation or beach sediments could reduce flood and erosion impacts, especially if used alongside conventional grey infrastructure.

Description of Project

The Town of Gibsons conducted the Coastal Resilience Project in partnership with the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI). See the MNAI’s related webpage Managing Natural Assets to Coastal Resilience here.

The two primary objectives of this pilot project were:

  1. To provide a quantitative assessment of the benefits coastal natural assets can offer for flood and erosion protection from coastal storms in Gibsons;
  2. To support the development of a modelling tool, called the Coastal Toolbox (CT), for independent use by coastal communities, including Gibsons, that wish to compare alternative natural asset management solutions.

As part of this study, we identified and inventoried coastal natural assets, and examined how these natural assets such as shoreline vegetation, subtidal eelgrass, and beach topography can provide flood and erosion protection under different management scenarios and climate change considerations (e.g., sea level rise).

The four main steps applied include:

  1. Identification and selection of coastal protection options for modelling
  2. Specification of sea level rise assumptions and construction of design storms
  3. Simulation modelling using the Coastal Toolbox (CT)
  4. Evaluation of results and estimation of benefits
Outcomes

In September 2021, the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative in partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation, released a complete report on the Town of Gibsons Coastal Resilience pilot study.

Additionally, a summary article entitled ‘Natural toolbox helps Gibsons plan for coastal emergency‘, was published on the David Suzuki Foundation’s website.

Project results will inform foreshore restoration work that is required over the coming years, and act as an important input for the Source to Sea Project. Additionally, work to develop a framework to connect the Coastal Assets (Coastal Resilience Project) and Watershed (Source to Sea) methodologies is underway.