Plan to solve cliff erosion in works

A UBC-led effort to find long-term solutions to the steady erosion of the porous sandstone and silt cliffs along the tip of the Point Grey peninsula has emerged from public consultations and is ready to develop options to fix the problem.

Storm water overflow, tides, uprooted trees, groundwater seepage, and human activities have all played a part in the erosion of the cliffs, says David Grigg, associate director of Campus and Community Planning in Land and Building Services.

Grigg's office, in collaboration with the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD), has been working since last summer to find ways to minimize the erosion of the cliffs which border the foreshore of Pacific Spirit Regional Park on the north end of campus.

UBC areas in danger of sustaining damage from greater erosion are those immediately surrounding Cecil Green Park, the Museum of Anthropology and Norman MacKenzie House.

A committee addressing the issue prepared a draft discussion document which has been approved by UBC's Board of Governors, the GVRD Board of Directors and the Musqueam Band Council.

The document outlined the considerations that must be addressed in working out a long-term solution.

Some of those considerations include concerns about vegetation, habitat and wildlife, viewscapes, storm sewer infrastructure, earthquake preparation, and native rights of the Musqueam Band to the area.

"Of particular concern is the storm water infrastructure constructed to dissipate all the north campus drainage to the ocean off Wreck Beach through a vertical spiral drain," says Grigg.

The committee included representatives from GVRD Regional Parks, the Musqueam First Nation, the Pacific Spirit Park Society, the Fraser River Coalition, the UBC Alma Mater Society, the University Endowment Land Ratepayers' Association, the Vancouver Natural History Society, and the Wreck Beach Preservation Society.

In late October and early November, two open house sessions were held on- and off-campus to hear public and expert opinions on the matter.

"This was the first step, to get out there and make sure that we had heard all the issues," says Grigg. "Now we need to move quickly into some of the options to fix the problem."

While options are being worked out for long-term solutions, work continues on campus to minimize the erosion affecting UBC.

Grigg says extra flood drains have been placed along Cecil Green Park Drive to lessen the pressure of storm overflow on the spiral drainpipe at the end of the drive. As well, work will begin shortly to improve drainage capacity near the Chan Centre.

Another series of public consultations will occur before a final recommendation and implementation strategy is presented to UBC's Board of Governors, the GVRD Board of Directors and various stakeholders.

Grigg says they hope to have an implementation plan in place by next spring.