Users of the popular Stanley Park seawall will have to endure a slight disruption to the cycling and pedestrian paths this spring as the Vancouver Park Board undertakes the largest restoration of the nine-kilometre route in its 101-year history. The work, which has already started along the foreshore in English Bay, comes after Park Board assessments in 2013 and 2016 which pinpointed multiple damage spots along the recreational attraction.

Stanley Park seawall, image by Flickr user Bob n' Renee via Creative Commons

"The seawall is subject to seasonal battering, as well as large storms, which damage the structure and necessitated the restoration work," said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon. "The restoration will allow local residents and visitors to continue to enjoy recreational activities for many more years on the seawall."

The restoration work will be carried out in two phases, with the first phase expected to be completed in August. During this stage, 100-metre sections of the seawall will be temporarily merged, forcing cyclists to dismount. It includes the filling of holes, replacing of stones, stabilizing foundations, and installing additional rocks between Brockton Point and Sunset Beach Park to protect against water erosion. The moves are intended to increase the resiliency of the seawall in the face of major storms that have been strengthened by climate change.

Stanley Park seawall, image by Bobanny via Wikimedia Commons

The second phase of the project needs to obtain Board approval and is estimated to launch shortly after the completion of the first phase. Vulnerable sections of the seawall at Sunset Beach between Inukshuk and Broughton Street and English Bay between Park Lane and Second Beach were replaced with reinforced concrete retaining walls in 2010 and 2011.

The seawall was created in 1917 as an infrastructural response to erosion, and was steadily developed over the next 60 years as resources became available, receiving a notable funding boost from a federal employment program during the Great Depression. Most of the work was conducted between 1950 and 1980, and since then, the seawall has extended beyond Stanley Park's borders.