Screen grab of a video created by the City of Surrey explaining a managed retreat approach. (City of Surrey graphic)

Surrey mulls relocating 400 Crescent homes in decades to come

‘Managed retreat’ one of four options considered

As the City of Surrey mulls over the best way to manage the inevitable rising sea in the decades to come, one of the highly supported options being considered is to let Crescent Beach be consumed by the forces of climate change.

“Managed retreat” is one of the four options, and it’s one that’s receiving the most support from Surrey residents who contributed to an online survey or attended one of several public consultation, said city engineer Matt Osler.

There are 1,400 people who live or work in Crescent Beach, and about 400 homes would be either relocated or abandoned as the sea levels increase by one metre, which could take 80 years, according the city.

The city has spent nearly two years developing a series of flood management options for Crescent Beach, Mud Bay and Semiahmoo Bay.

Despite a CBC News story that reported the city was “hatching a plan” to buy out approximately 400 Crescent Beach homes, Osler told Peace Arch News that it’s “too early to say how we would implement a managed retreat.”

He said the next portion of the three-year study is to speak with provincial and federal levels of government to see how a managed retreat would work. He pointed to an incident in Calgary where the federal and provincial government initiated a buyout of properties in a high risk area in 2013.

CBC’s online story has since been revised.

Other options being explored by the city include expanding the edge of Crescent Beach, which would reduce the wave run up. By 2100, the dyke would be, on average, 2.5 metres higher than it is today. All homes and road ways would need to be raised by one metre.

The city is considering creating a one-kilometre “barrier island,” which is six metres above sea level by 2100. The city says it would impact views from the shoreline, and existing southwest dykes would be increased by 2.3 metres.

The fourth option includes a 4.5 km “Mud Bay barrier.” A barrier wall would be built 10 metres above sea level, which would settle into the mud by half of its constructed height. The barrier would impact views, the city said.

The barrier would have detrimental impacts to wildlife using the Nicomekl River and sea as a path of transit, and a moderate earthquake would likely cause damage to the barrier.

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