Pioneer of big wave surfing Buzzy Trent is credited with saying: “Waves are not measured in feet or inches, they are measured in increments of fear.”
While many do have concerns about the impact of climate change, City of Surrey council has taken a more practical step to measure how quickly the sea level is rising.
At the Jan. 25 regular council meeting, the city approved a city staff recommendation to enter into a licensing agreement with Her Majesty the Queen in the Right of Canada to install wave monitoring stations on existing channel markers owned by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), located off the shore of Crescent Beach.
“In recent winter seasons, the City has experienced some over-topping events of the foreshore dykes in the Boundary Bay area,” reads a corporate report received by council at the meeting.
“Having accurate local data on the coastal environment will assist in coastal flood protection upgrades and emergency preparation for Surrey’s residents.”
The stations are to allow the city to monitor sea-level rise, and develop potential mitigation measures. The information is to support the city’s ongoing climate adaptation and would be publicly available for marine traffic and emergency preparedness staff.
DFO Institute of Ocean Sciences Richard Thomas told Peace Arch News there’s a Canada-wide program, in conjunction with Washington State and Semiahmoo First Nations, to examine coastal flood mitigation in the southern Strait of Georgia.
“Focus is on Boundary Bay as a west coast case study,” he wrote.
“Monitoring sea level rise in the study region, including Greater Vancouver, is critical to our future predictions of sea level inundation in low-lying areas by storm surge and by future tsunami wave events, such as that produced by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake of January 1700 along the Cascadia Subduction Zone off the BC-Washington coast and the 9.2 earthquake of March 1964 off Kodiak, Alaska.
“We need to know how high the dike systems needs to be raised to prevent future flooding by storms and distant tsunamis. Long-term tide and wind measurements in Boundary Bay are urgently needed to begin this.”
Currently, the city of Surrey report notes, there are no storm surge, wind, or wave monitoring stations in the area.
Most of the coastal information that the city relies on is from Pt. Atkinson in West Vancouver, an area “which does not experience the same weather/storm events as experienced in the Boundary Bay area.”
“This information is crucial for the city to be able to look into the future planning of Surrey’s infrastructure; therefore, staff are informed on what heights and levels are needed to start planning, seeing as these types of storm events are becoming more frequent,” the report reads.
Jan. 25, council approved a motion to authorize the city to execute the licence agreement which is due to terminate on Jan. 31, 2028. Prior to termination of the contract, the city is to be given the option to resubmit an application for renewal.
The $50,000 project is to be funded by the city, and is eligible for up to 41.5 per cent reimbursement by the federal government as it’s part of the city’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund project.
“We aim to work with the Canadian Coast Guard to have these stations installed by the end of March, contingent on weather,” said Surrey’s engineering manager Scott Neuman.