UBC Undergraduate Research

West Vancouver : Toward a Holistic Approach for Soft Shorelines Steele, Anthony


The global mean sea level has been rising steadily since accurate records began to be kept in the late 19th-century, and recent data provided by satellite technology suggests that this trend is accelerating rapidly. Historically, popular coastal management strategies have been mitigation based, and sought to reflect wave-action with hard shorelines composed mostly of impervious, concrete surfaces. Fortunately, agreement has since been reached surrounding the erosion-enhancing effects that obstructive barriers can have, forcing managers to rethink their once-standard approach. Efforts are underway at present in the District of West Vancouver to ameliorate their heavily degraded shore and finally create a sustainable waterfront for their community. Soft shorelines attempt to resolve erosive processes by instead mimicking the self-balancing natural environment. They promise to resolve ecological issues associated with intensive coastal development, and eliminate future threats from sea-level rise. If West Vancouver hopes to achieve their long-held goal of an environmentally sound amenity for generations to enjoy, managers must evaluate the local history of land use, planning policy, and coastal morphology when implementing soft shorelines. Understanding the the past will always be the best way possible to avoid repeating mistakes. A lesson of commonality can be learned from mistakes whose evidence remains clearly visible upon the shore, and remains a testament to the well-intended yet misguided aspirations of this residential community. This will be necessary for change to take hold in a meaningful way.

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