Shoring up the banks at Pat Bay

Erosion undercutting the west side of West Saanich Road

Ian Bruce of Peninsula Streams walks along Pat Bay as an excavator moves large boulders into place next to West Saanich Road.

Two years after starting repairs of the bank along West Saanich Road at Pat Bay, crews are back this week, shoring up the area against erosion.

Until July 9, traffic will face short stoppages as trucks and excavators place rocks along the west side of the road at the Tseycum First Nation. Ian Bruce of Peninsula Streams says that side of the route is being eroded away. To keep it intact in the long term, he said the bank is being reinforced with rip rap, gravel and natural plants and the beach itself will be raised with a new layer of sand and gravel. The goal, he said, is to prevent further undercutting of the bank and better distribution of wave action and sediment along the beach.

“It wasn’t a question of if the bank would erode, but when,” Bruce said.

Peninsula Streams is working with the Tseycum Nation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Highways, the BC Shore Spawners Alliance and Sea Watch Society and the Pacific Salmon Foundation to fund and complete the project.

It started in 2012 with the planning stage, and is a continuation of work Bruce said was completed south of the current work site.

“We saw a chance to work with (the agencies) on restoring the beach and doing the bank work at the same time,” he said.

Bruce said they found the rock being used along the bank from a construction project near the Victoria General Hospital, saving money on material and hauling. Woody debris is also being used to add stability to the bank. There will be beach access points left behind when the work is done, Bruce added, as well as space for interpretive signs that explain local First Nations interests in the Pay Bay area.

The current phase, he said, will cost an estimated $300,000.

Bruce said additional work will be required further north of the job site, pointing out many place where trees and earth have been severely undercut by storm surges and tidal action. That area, he said, needs to be on the District of North Saanich’s radar as erosion there will eventually cut into the stability of West Saanich Road at that point.