Coastal Resilience Project

Background

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. A foreshore condition assessment, completed in August 2014 by an engineering firm, provides a basis for a long-term master plan for the redevelopment of the foreshore to ensure the shoreline, associated infrastructure, and adjoining development is properly protected from an anticipated sea level rise of about one metre around the Town of Gibsons by the year 2100. This analysis will also provide a basis for long-term stewardship and for formally deeming the foreshore to be an asset within the Town management framework.

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 Protection Benefits Toolbox (CPBT), 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 Protection Benefits Toolbox (CPBT)
  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.