History of The Foreshore Society

CityHallWatch has obtained this brochure and history and posts them here for all to see.

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“Brief History of Point Grey Natural Foreshore & Waterfowl Sanctuary Protective Society”
(known as “The Foreshore Society”)

Everyone in Kitsilano loves the little path on the shore between Kits Pool and Trafalgar, and the wild beach that stretches west to Jericho. But do any of us know how hard it has been to keep them wild? Over the decades this path, and the beautiful wild beach to the west, have been constantly under siege for development.

Long ago a small group sprang up to protect the beach. Its members have worked hard to protect this coveted place. They’ve learned that the beach is a nursery for nature: this intertidal zone, left natural without a constricting seawall, supports the shore and marine life that sustains our smelt and salmon, our marine shellfish, whelks, crabs and anemones, our sea mammals, and our seagrasses and monkey-flowers and butterfly-attracting nettles.
The point where land and water meet is the nursery of life on this planet. This is the richest zone, and also the most developed. We are so lucky in Vancouver to have this last natural beach. It is because of the high cliffs that protect it, that it still exists as it has since before Vancouver was born.

But pressure is always very high to develop this too, which is why the Foreshore Society was formed in 1989. Talk of a seawall had the public worried.

The Foreshore Society organized many studies done by top people at UBC and the University of Victoria. Scientists volunteered to undertake studies on the beach’s unique geology; on its marine biology, complete with careful grids; on a careful analysis of the plant life; and on thorough studies of the bird life, including the vast rafts of diving birds which congregate here in the thousands every winter. We translated three of these scientific studies into reader-friendly booklets which we’ve published in the hundreds. And gradually, as we could afford it, we worked with the Park Board to install signs informing the public of the life on the seashore.

In 1994, the Park Board passed a resolution: “That the Board request the City advise the Provincial Government of its desire to keep the Point Grey waterfront as a natural beach, and pursue a lease with the Province for the creation of a Point Grey Foreshore and Marine Sanctuary, with the provision that there be no development, no concrete walkway and no sewer construction on the Point Grey Foreshore.” We still have the newspaper declaration of this decision.

In 2003, a huge storm broke the old seawall around Kits Pool in 2 places. It also broke down the little path west of Kits Yacht Club in several places. Soon, poor drainage caused erosion, and citizens out for a walk or run were at risk of stepping into holes.

We proposed repairs; the Park Board did the same; but our visions turned out to be very different. When Parks proposed a wall of riprap and rocks to protect that path at the slant of 1 foot high to two feet wide, namely a slanting wall 30 to 40 feet wide at its base, we realized our small, beloved and productive smelting, bathing and picnicking beach would completely disappear under that wall. So we asked the Park Board to reconsider.

We contacted three experts such as Mike Polster who pointed out that the bedrock was perfectly strong, and only the top needed repairs. We communicated their findings to Tim Chow. We had one of the experts, Will Marsh, come to one of the meetings.

Well, the staff did reconsider, and they were generous in listening to our neighbourhood input. They accepted Dave Polster’s expert testimony that the ancient bedrock was sound and will outlast us all, but that the filler topping the path was being washed away by poor drainage allowing overwatering and rain to soak down to the bedrock, sloughing the topfill away. They put in extra time at their meetings to build a compromise. They listened to us, and together we all worked out a solution to the problems on our beach – a solution which would not expand the existing footprint of the path. Then they built it! 

We were grateful.

The Foreshore Society therefore held an event to thank sincerely the many hardworking and dedicated staff members of the Vancouver Park Board. On Earth Day 2005 in Kitsilano, we cut a ribbon to celebrate the reopening and rejuvenation of the little path, the continued protection of the wild beach beyond, and the productive coalition between the Vancouver Park Board and the citizens of Kitsilano.

Since then we have continued our custom of annual (and sometimes semi-annual) beach cleanups, collecting hundreds of kilos of debris; and dealing with creosoted logs and other small crises, plus maintaining and replacing the information signs located in a number of spots above the beach. We’ve also put a good deal of research into potentially daylighting one of the creeks that used to run to the beach.

—- The Foreshore Society, 2012

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