Park board wants people to avoid parts of the seawall after spending millions to make it more climate-resilient

It's asked the public not to go around the barricades because of unseen hazards

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      Parts of the seawall along English Bay and Stanley Park remain dangerous, according to the Vancouver park board.

      As a result, it's asked the public to avoid the section from Sunset Beach to Lions Gate Bridge.

      It might surprise some residents that the park board already spent millions of dollars not very long ago to try to ensure that a situation like this wouldn't occur.

      On December 17, 2018, commissioners approved a staff recommendation for phase two of the repair of and rehabilitation of the Stanley Park and English Bay seawall to make it more resilient to climate imacts that occurred this month.

      "There are many sections that have undermined areas," Ian Stewart, manager of park development, says in a recent video posted on Twitter. "It looks safe. It's not."

      Moreover, he notes that sections could collapse at any time. Logs are loose, piles of boulders are unstable, and rebar is sticking up out of some stones.

      "The biggest thing that you could do right now is to stay away and let the crews do their job," Stewart says. "The sooner that we can get this work done, the sooner we can get the seawall reopened."

      Park board went for low bid in 2018

      Original construction of the Stanley Park seawall began in 1917 and continued for more than seven decades, according to a 2018 report to the board.

      "Much of the early incremental progress of the construction was overseen by Park Board master stone mason James Cunningham from the late 1920s until his retirement 35 years later," it stated.

      The Stanley Park and English Bay seawall was declared completed in 1980 when the final section was paved between Third Beach and Second Beach.

      However, the seawall suffered damages and required emergency repairs following storms in 2006, 2012, and 2015.

      "In 2010 and 2011, two portions of the seawall, in Stanley Park (near Second Beach) and at English Bay (near Sunset Beach), were reconstructed to address erosion and structural stability concerns," the 2018 report noted. "The cost to reconstruct the combined 800 meter of the seawall was $5.5M (with a $2M Federal grant). The wall was built at a height of 3.0 m, to accommodate sea level rise conditions known at that time, and has the ability to be raised by an additional 0.3m in the future."

      Following an evaluation in 2013, the board proceeded with a two-phase "renewal program" for a "major restoration", which began in 2017.

      According to the report, this program focused on "highest priority areas to restore the integrity of the seawall structure, increase resilience, and preserve the historic fabric of the seawall".

      In 2018, the park board spend $4.5 million upgrading the Stanley Park seawall.

      In April 2018, the park board announced that this two-phase project would cost $4.5 million. But the actual expenditure turned out to be significantly less because of a low bid on the second phase, which the board approved.

      In the first phase, $1.3 million was spent, according to the report.

      In the second phase, there were three bids (figures include additional scope price):

      1. Polycrete Restoration Ltd.: $1,940,600

      2. Golder Associates Ltd.: $2,479,800

      3. Industra Construction Corp.: $3,627,987.19

      The park board approved the low bid from Polycrete Restorations because of the price and the net overall impact on the city's finances.

      In addition, the report praised the tenderer's experience in projects similar in nature, its reputation, and its skill, knowledge, and experience in repair of historic masonry structures of similar construction.

      The motion to acccept the recommended low bid was made by NPA commissioner John Coupar and was seconded by Green commissioner Dave Demers. It passed unanimously.

      The staff report to the commissioners suggested that these improvements would enhance the resilience of the seawall to climate-related events.

      The recent damage occurred in a windstorm that coincided with a king tide

      "Impact of climate change, in particular sea level rise and increase in high intensity storm events, were considered throughout the design process," the report stated in 2018. 

      "This project aims to increase the resilience of the seawall through repairs to high priority areas as well as designing the repairs to respond to higher frequency storm events," it continued. "In addition, the designs incorporate possibility for future height increases in order to address emerging threats due to climate change."

      To date, the board has not revealed the cost of current and ongoing repairs to the seawall.