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Storm-battered Jericho Pier should be demolished, Vancouver park board staff recommends

Damage to the Jericho Pier is seen in an image from the Vancouver Park Board. Damage to the Jericho Pier is seen in an image from the Vancouver Park Board.
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Staff with the Vancouver Park Board are recommending that the damaged Jericho Pier – which has been closed since 2021 – be demolished instead of repaired or rebuilt.

The risk of future damage from extreme weather is one of the reasons the 80-year-old pier is "at the end of its service life," according to a report outlining the recommendation, which is set to come before the board at its Sept. 11 meeting.

"Over the years, the pier has been repaired several times in response to storm damage. During recurring storm surge events, the pier deck has been fully inundated. Climate change is increasing the frequency of severe storm events, and sea level rise is expected to significantly impact this site," the report says.

Mike Cotter, general manager of the Jericho Sailing Centre Association, agrees with the staff’s recommendation to tear down the dock.

“I'm emotionally attached to the Jericho Pier as anyone,” he told CTV News. “But with sea level rise, it was beyond its service life. The deck floods regularly in the winter at its current level and to repair it, really, is throwing good money after bad.”

The sailing centre has used the dock for its rescue program and adaptive sailing program, but over the last two summers since the pier’s closure, the programs were able to make changes so they wouldn’t rely on the pier.

NEW PIER COULD COST $25 MILLION

A plan for renewal was approved by the board in 2017 but staff say the project would cost as much as $25 million and notes that fundraising efforts have been largely unsuccessful.

The cost of a "like-for-like" repair of the pier would amount to $350,000, but the board says the "vulnerability" of the structure to future damage means that annual maintenance costs could come in at anywhere from $100,000 to $2.35 million.

"This vulnerability is forecast to increase in light of climate change effects [sea level rise and an increase in frequency of king tide and storm surge events]. While this option would require significantly less capital funding, the expected ongoing costs of this approach is significant, and is likely to exceed the costs of the recommended option over time," the report says.

Park Board Commissioner Tom Digby said rebuilding the existing pier does not seem feasible.

“That’s an unlikely option given the massive cost to maintain a pier like that in the face of these rising sea levels,” he said.

Digby said many other waterfronts in Vancouver are dealing with the reality of climate change.

“For me it’s just another tragic cost of climate change,” he said. “[With] sea levels rising, it’s going to go up by a metre by the end of a century, and it’s causing tremendous damage to all the assets and beaches along the waterfront.”

Instead of replacing or repairing the pier, the plan being proposed is to "deconstruct" the pier and reinforce the breakwater, which will cost between $500,000 and $2.8 million.

"The decision will not preclude future opportunities to redevelop the pier site if or when sufficient funding becomes available and if future plans for the site call for its replacement," the report concludes.

The pier was initially closed in November of 2021 due to what the board describes as "moderate damage." Two months later, a storm surge and king tide flooded and battered the pier, causing far more significant damage.

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