Project Watershed followed up on the Lazo Road Shoreline stabilization project and on July 26th the Town of Comox staff toured our organization and Fisheries and Oceans Canada representatives through the site with their Project Team. One of Project Watershed’s main concerns with the project was whether or not the Town had the correct permitting in place to conduct these works. Through our research it appeared they did not have authority over the foreshore area, in which some of the work is taking place. This was the main reason we filed a natural resource violation report. The province gave the Town of Comox administrative approval to use the foreshore area. We understand the Province will be retroactively providing the Town with an appropriate transfer of tenure for this area under the Land Act if required.
Based on our tour of the work site it was obvious that a lot of time and thought has gone into this project. We now understand the full scope of the project design which incorporates some green shore concepts, as much as feasible given the site specific constraints. We appreciate the good discussions we had, are satisfied with the overall project design and the rationale for the use of riprap and the way it is being installed to reduce wave energy as much as possible. We did have a few suggestions, which we submitted to the Town of Comox, that would, from our perspective, add value and further improve the project, these include the following:
- We recommend a formal structured monitoring plan to assess the recovery and re-establishment of the dune grass vegetative community, in order to ensure that there is no net loss of this rare community, is recommended. The monitoring of the site to see how it withstands wave and wind action is also suggested. As this project has incorporated some green shore concepts it can be assessed and used as a case study that could potentially be replicated at other similar sites.
- Educational / interpretive signage would add value to the project and help explain the project and the natural processes at work in this sensitive area to the local community.
- We have concerns in terms of where the pedestrian / bike pathway is situated and its size. We felt that its size could have been reduced due to the tight circumstances in this case; as the position of the pathway leaves very little room for the natural retreat of the shoreline given predicated sea level rise and increased storm frequency and intensity due to climate change. It also takes away from the naturally vegetated area, and the amount of area covered by the pathway does not appear to be compensated for in the planting plan. We do recognize that it is too late to adjust the pathway, but additional planting could be undertaken to account for the loss of vegetation due to the path.
- We commented on the lack of a meaningful consultation process on such a high profile project, that we had difficulty getting information to better understand the project. We understand that many others had the same issue which resulted in a high level of public concern. We believe that a more formal communication process would improve transparency and accountability.
- We advise leaving the entire area of vegetated shoreline where erosion is not actively occurring untouched; this would provide a large undisturbed segment for future comparative monitoring of natural processes for the area.
Project Watershed is planning on following up on this project and agreed to a meeting with the Town’s Public Works staff this fall. We look forward to continuing this dialogue at that time.
We believe that by working together – government, industry, stewardship groups and the public – we can carry out projects that benefit our Valley socially, environmentally and economically.