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Cleanup continuing after king tides swamp West Vancouver waterfront

Ambleside, Dundarave piers still closed after some pilings knocked out

Cleanup is continuing on West Vancouver’s waterfront this week after king tides of about 16 feet and a storm surge combined on Friday (Jan. 7) to swamp local parks, and wreak damage along the Centennial Seawalk.

Crews worked all day over the weekend and were continuing on Monday and Tuesday to remove debris and reopen some areas of the Seawalk, said Donna Powers, spokesperson for the District of West Vancouver.

Some parts of the Seawalk, between 19th and 25th streets in Dundarave, were found to be more significantly damaged than first thought after debris was removed.

“Logs, sand and garbage is still being removed and granite blocks need to be repositioned,” said Powers.

Light standards were also damaged, and both the poles and wiring need to be repaired, she added.

The municipality plans to clear debris and broken items before reopening the Seawalk, by Wednesday. There will be additional rolling closures of some sections over the coming weeks as repairs are done, said Powers.

Ambleside, John Lawson and Dundarave piers all sustained damage and will remain closed for the foreseeable future, said Powers. “Engineering assessments will take place soon, but we know they are structurally unsound and need repairs before they can be open to the public.”

 “You can just look at the piers and see that they're missing pilings. Pilings being the things that hold them up,” she said.

The fenced dog walk has also been badly damaged, and will remain closed, said Powers. The Ambleside section of the Seawalk is open with damaged areas marked with cones so that people can use the Seawalk and move around the damaged areas, she added.

“It's not as bad as the Vancouver Seawall images that you've seen, but it's similar in that, the sea just got under the asphalt and it lifted it up and it's tilted, it's smashed. There’s still a lot of debris to clean up, like sand and gravel has been dumped everywhere,” Powers said.

The damage comes after much of the West Vancouver waterfront was swamped by huge tides combined with high winds Friday morning. Residents described parks and parking lots as resembling lakes on Friday.



Original story Friday, Jan. 7:

The West Vancouver Seawalk and most public parks on the West Vancouver waterfront have been closed Friday as municipal crews grapple with flooding and debris caused by a huge storm surge.

“It’s Mother Nature’s big day,” said Donna Powers, spokesperson for the District of West Vancouver. “Basically from the Beach House to Park Royal, it’s closed and it's underwater.”

West Vancouver is known to expect king tides at this time of year, said Powers “and we knew there was a king tide predicted.” But winds that were forecast to come from the northwest shifted and came from the south, she said, “so they really exacerbated the effects of the kind tide and storm surge.”

Crews went down to the waterfront this morning around 9:30 a.m. and “basically evacuated everyone who was down there to north of the railway lines,” just before the highest tide, said Powers.

Now most of the waterfront, including Ambleside Park, the dog park, the playground at John Lawson and parts of the Seawalk are all under water, she said.

Mary Ellen Schesser was one of those who witnessed the flooding on Friday morning. She said some people who had gone out for a walk earlier in the morning came back to find their cars trapped in a flooded parking lot.

“If they went for a walk, when the high tide came at 9:45 a.m., they could not get out,” she said. “Waves breached the beach, seawall, and sidewalk to flood the parking lot. Water was pouring down the road in front of the yacht club. It came up the boat ramp and down the road like a river.

“We saw spray from the seawall at the bottom of 15th Street as high as the lines on the telephone pole.”

One parks manager estimated the winds were blowing at about 50 kilometres an hour at that time, said Powers. “We’ve got a forecast that it could go up to 90. So we don’t know if it’s over yet.”

Municipal crews have put up water-filled “tiger dams” around the Silk Purse arts centre in Ambleside, but there has still been some flooding in the basement of the building, said Powers.

The ferry building, which has been recently lifted in response to this type of flooding, is sitting high and dry.

Sidewalks are closed at Millennium Park, however, and John Lawson Park has been swamped with debris. “I believe the basement of Navvy Jack house is flooded and we’re pumping it out.” The playground at Dundarave is also underwater, said Powers.

Crews are out doing cleanup, said Powers, but she added some of the work will have to wait until the water recedes, and could take several days.

The public is asked to stay away as some of the work could involve heavy machinery.

The City of North Vancouver also felt the impact of the waterfront storm surge on Friday, closing public access to the Burrard Pier and the St. Roch dock Friday afternoon as winds and high waves made for hazardous conditions.