Post North-easterly Storm on Weir’s beach, Dec 2014

During the past few weeks, we have experienced several storms out of the north east at high tide. These images were taken to document some of the on-going problems from the extensive rip-rapping and seawall construction on that beach. See this page for summer 2013 images for comparison.

2014-12-26 weirserosion2

The solid sea-wall built only last year will lead to increased scouring and removal of sand. Unfortunately it will not only affect the crown land property in front of the wall, but the crown land foreshore adjacent to this property .


2014-12-26 weirserosin

Recent storms have dislodged many of the boulders near the south end of the beach. Note the rubble foreground which was previously sand beach.

2014-12-26 controlgate

This concrete control gate was built many years ago to control flooding into a lagoon. The rip-rap boulders around it have been disturbed by wave action.

2014-12-26 weirsbeachwidth

Site A= south end of the beach-sand eroded from base of rip-pap wall. Site B The border of where the rip-rap ends and the natural beach (going northward,) begins. C=the widened sand beach area backed by the natural beach. Scouring of the sand does not occur as it does further south on the beach.

2014-12-26 natural-portion

The berm on the North end of Weir’s beach is in a more natural state with logs and debris thrown up by storms. The and natural beach vegetation and debris absorbs the impact of the ocean energy and no scouring of the beach sand has occurred. This will lead to long-term beach stability and erosion-resistance.

See other posts and references on hardening of the shorelines by clicking on links below.
See this file on early pictures of Weir’s beach

Anything for a View?

Living on a steep coastal bluff with million dollar views may be a dream of many, but with it comes a few responsibilities. The references on development along coastal areas provides many examples of how development has to be done responsibly.  One aspect of concern is vegetation removal and tree cutting and topping on cliffs in order to provide better views to the landowner. In Metchosin, two areas, the Albert Head Cliffs and the Taylor Beach Cliffs provide many examples of this.

In April of 2013 the sound of a chainsaw on the Taylor cliffs led to the discovery of many alder trees on the almost vertical slope that had been topped  and even a few arbutus trees had been cut down.

Topped Alder Trees on the Taylor Beach Cliffs

Topped Alder Trees on the Taylor Beach Cliffs

2013-04-19 aldersectionlThese trees were about 25 years old  as can be seen by the tree rings on chunks of trees that had rolled down to the beach.

It might be pointed out that these trees are from the  area of Metchosin’s Coastline included in the  development permit zone.

This reference from the Center for Ocean Solutions points out he problems of interferring with natural processes on an seaside  cliff given the threats of climate change and sea level rise.

Photo of slope failure from Mail Online

Photo of slope failure from Mail Online

A good example taken from “Mail Online” of what slope failure looked like on Whidbey Island.




perchedoncliffAnd if one still has doubts, check out these images :

Metchosin Marine Issues, an Expression of Concern.

The Unique Value of our Coastal Ecosystems

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 contribute 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,
  • eel-grass beds,
  • high speed current channels,
  • underwater caves,
  • vertical underwater cliffs,
  • boulder beaches,
  • sand beaches,
  • and pebble (pocket) beaches.

Every metre of coastal intertidal zone 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, and the energy flow in the food webs of at least 7 local marine mammal species are directly affected.

It is further recognized that a viable commercial crab fishery, as well as an extensive sports fishery operates along the coastal areas of Metchosin.

Rockfishconservationareas19_20 The ocean environment in the area of Race Passage has also been recognized as an important habitat for the regeneration of Rockfish stock leading to the creation of a DFO rockfish conservation areas where all fishing is prohibited.




anthroimpactThis file and map of the the Metchosin 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.


ecoareasThis file contains a map with the ecologically sensitive areas of Metchosin’s Coastal Ecosystems.
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.
  • Oil and 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 Albert Head.
  • 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, is 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.

Marine Threats:

Tanker traffic very close to our shores, poses a continual risk of oil and chemical spills. In the areas shown 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.

  • 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.
  • whalewiseWhale 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

Return to MetchosinCoastal

Originally published by G.Fletcher in 2004.