Coastal Development Issues in Metchosin

The Coastal Resources of Metchosin are a valuable form of Natural Capital that must have special consideration when Development Planning is done in the District.
The Crown owns the foreshore to the high tide mark, and although one would think this allowed
protection, there are still considerable threats to the ecological integrity of this area, which must be
considered. The shoreline is an interface between two systems, the terrestrial uplands and the open ocean. As typical of any natural system, one cannot separate them in terms of management decisions, as they have processes, which interact.   Community members of a progressive coastal community should tolerate no activities involving human action that contributes to any level of destabilization or decline of our present shoreline ecosystems.

Along our shorelines in Metchosin, we have a variety of unique marine ecosystems:

  • Tidal marshes,
  • lagoons,
  • estuaries,
  • bays and mudflats
  • eel-grass beds,
  • high speed current channels,
  • underwater caves,
  • vertical underwater cliffs,
  • boulder beaches,
  • sand beaches, and
  • pebble (pocket) beaches.

Every metre of these different coastal intertidal zones also has a characteristic set of organisms, which can be impacted by actions of humans either from the land side or the ocean side.  Larger commercial species of fish often feed or spawn near the shoreline interface, juvenile fish  migrate along shorelines, often relying on protective habitat of overhanging vegetation or kelp beds. Forage fish spawn on our beaches and these fish are essential for providing energy flow to all upper trophic levels  such as fish, birds and the energy flow in the food webs of at least 7 local marine mammal species are directly affected.

rockfishconsareaIt is further recognized that a viable commercial crab fishery, as well as an extensive sports fishery operates along the coastal areas of Metchosin.
The ocean environment in the area of Bentinck Island and Race Passage has also been recognized as an important habitat for the regeneration of Rockfish stock leading to the creation of a DFO rockfish protection areas where all fishing is prohibited.

rockfishconservbeecherbayIn addition, the Subarea 20-5 encompasses an area on the South East side of Beecher Bay.





anthroimpactmThis file with a map of Metchosin’s Shoreline shows the major areas where humans have modified the habitat, often resulting in ecosystem modification and loss of habitat for local species of fish, invertebrates and marine mammals.



The term Anthropogenic refers to human modification.
ecoareassThis file contains a map with the ecologically sensitive areas of Metchosin’s
Coastal Ecosystems.





Scan 14The CRD Coastal Management Publication




foragefishSee this file on the Forage Fish and the hazards from development on beaches in Metchosin.


Terrestrial Threats:

  • Erosion from road building, utility and sewer installation, subdivision development carrying
    silt into the receiving waters has a negative impact on filter feeders (e.g. Clams, mussels and
    anemone) in the ocean.
  • Crushed rock deposited in upland areas in road building and building lot creation may have serious toxic impacts on marine life as water leaches through it carrying dissolved metallic ions to the sea.
  • Accidental or planned deposition of hazardous materials in soils can also lead to leaching to the marine waters.
  • Deforestation on upland slopes leads to deterioration of coastal ecosystems.
  • Channelization of streams leads to silt output and increased fresh water flow to ocean environments.
  • Human traffic, (especially horses) on beaches can severely impact on spawning areas of needle fish (on Taylor beach)
  • Uncontrolled dogs can have a serious impact on feeding patterns of shorebirds- especially crucial during migration.
  • Humans and dogs on beaches can impact on molting elephant seals.
  • Beach debris can be washed seaward, to be ingested by marine animals.
  • Oiland chemicals from storm sewer drains is toxic to marine creatures.
  • Building too close to cliffs can lead to destabilization and therefore slumping of land into the ocean. This is especially of concern along the cliffs of Parry Bay and North of Albert Head.
  • for DND activities such as underwater blasting and shoreline blasting and demolition, (see this link to  disturb shoreline habitat and both resident and migratory birds and mammals.
  • Sewage disposal on land in septic fields, contributes a large nutrient load as it leaches through to the shoreline. The heavy die-off of algal growth on Weir’s beach annually, could be evidence of this.
  • Development on the coastline as has recently occurred South of Devonian Park can lead to alteration of the coastal resource, habitat smothering and destruction, and increases shoreline erosion risk.
  • Backshore alteration of any beach habitat for intended purposes of bank stabilization, inevitably in the long run leads to shorefront habitat deterioration

A good reference on the problems of shoreline construction can be found here in this reference from Nature CanadaQuote If you’re a shoreline resident, we are committed to helping you obtain information to protect your property, prevent problems like erosion, and protect water quality, fish and wildlife habitat. We do this by working with, and providing support services to, groups that help shoreline residents like you. “

Marine Threats:

Click on the map image below for a satellite view of the Metchosin Coastline with an indication of the areas sensitive to Oilspills.

oilsens-smTanker traffic very close to our shores, poses a continual risk of oil and chemical spills. In the areas show in the map, red indicates highly sensitive and a long term residency of oil. Yellow indicates a lesser residence time of oil. Green indicates a faster cleanup may be possible because of exposure to waves and currents.


tokyopmarineSee this file linked on for hazards from boat traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

  • Increase in cruise lines in recent years has a potential to impact our coastal resources.
  • Increasing fast boat traffic is hazardous to harbour seal pups and slow moving marine mammals (such as elephant seals) in particular.  It also increases rates of coastal erosion in sheltered bays.
  • Boat motor sound underwater affects animals relying on the underwater seascape for communication.
  • Whale watching boating patterns have an impact on the time whales can spend foraging in the area.
  • Antifouling compounds on ships (some military) and in boats in marinas provide a further risk to the marine environment
  • Possibility of contamination of our shorelines from Raw sewage disposal in Victoria at Macaulay and Clover Point Outfalls. The 2007 report linked here provides a breakdown of the different chemicals in sewage.This is an important reference when considering the potentials of impact on Metchosin shores. See either the summary or full report linked below in the reference section.

Introduced Species:

Coastal Jurisdiction: Who owns what ?.. A reference on the various government jurisdictions for coastal Metchosin

Further Resources:

Probably the best paper done on the Coastal processes of the Metchosin Coast was the CRD document,Shoreline Resources of the CRD done by Dr. Wolf Bauer in the early 1970’s.In it, he details the geological processes affecting all the shoreline areas of Metchosin and notes where development and human intrusion has to be controlled in specifically sensitive areas.

A comprehensive assemblage of marine related resources for the area on the south coast of Metchosin can be found in the Race Rocks Pilot Marine Protected Area, An Ecological Overview, Wright and Pringle, IOS 2001 Race Rocks Pilot Marine Protected Area, 

Macaulay and Clover Point Wastewater and Marine Environment

2007reportFull report