Dear Advisory Committee:
You have now been offered a critical role to play in determining the future of the special beaches at Victoria Beach for generations to come. A tough position and one the people of Victoria Beach have entrusted you to do on their behalf, in the best interests of the entire community.
Today I am writing to you hoping that you will consider all the facts and endeavor to seek answers to all questions, particularly if they fall outside your particular realm of expertise. To take the time to become well informed about any and all proposals that you are asked to consider before offering any permanent, precedent setting decisions.
Through my reading and research I keep coming back to this quote which is found in our community plan “Recognizing the Past: Embracing the Future Development Plan Framework” from Rural Municipality of Victoria Beach April 2010:
“Victoria Beach has been rated as one of the top 10 freshwater beaches in the world and during engagements; residents identified the health of the beach environment as their priority issue. Erosion and algae blooms require significant attention. Because preservation and management of the natural environment are central to the identity of Victoria Beach, future land use and development decisions should minimize negative impacts on the environment and enhance the natural features of the municipality.” Page 16
It seems logical that when an individual chooses to inhabit property in front of a sand beach owned by the Crown — used extensively by the public community — it must be taken into consideration that there must be limits to what can or cannot be done to protect private property from mother nature and the natural process of erosion. That there must be limitations since some actions to save property may be deemed to adversely effect an entire community by causing change of the beach directly in front of them. A beach they do not own.
It needs to be firmly and unequivocably recognized that owning property in front of a public sand beach is simply not the same as owning property in front of a rocky, unused and non publically accessed waterfront. That it comes with added responsibilities and limitations.
With all of the scientific literature I have accessed it seems logical that revetments, rip raps and stone walls should never be an option in front of a sand beach.
Sandbags need careful scrutiny too.
In an open letter to Victoria Beach, the distinguished professor Pilkey clearly states: ” I would caution against use of experimental or temporary structures. One approach used in SC and NC has been to allow giant sandbags (provided they are removed after a couple of years), but enforcing the removal requirement has proved almost impossible and it turns out sandbags have the same impact on beach loss as concrete seawalls.
Most of the community is not necessarily against sandbags. The focus rather, is towards making sure the right sandbags are used.
Here are some questions that need be considered for any sandbag proposal:
Are the sandbags on Municipal, Private or Provincial property? And once determined, who is directly liable for all decisions thus made?
What are the size of the sandbags?
Are they to be permanent or temporary?
What is the environmental affect as the sandbags decompose?
What are all of the components? (outer and inner)
If any of the property owners along a stretch of beach opt out will this structure be contiguous? (Non contiguous can lead to increased erosion.)
If any of the property owners along this stretch of beach opt out and it is a contiguous structure who is paying for those who opted out?
If it is not a contiguous structure what liability does the municipality incur when there is erosion of private property around the breaks in the sandbag structure?
What process or data will be used to determine that most property owners would find this proposal acceptable?
Do you believe with complete confidence that the greater population of Victoria Beach as a whole agrees that public property should be used, incorporated or altered/destroyed in any efforts made by a private group or consortium for their own needs? (This goes for any proposal incorporating Crown or Municipal land.)
Was an engineer retained or consulted for any sandbag proposal put forth?
Has an engineer been consulted in regards to the effectiveness and impact of placing sand bags on a dynamic beach?
Have drawings or plans been stamped by an engineer when provided?
Are the plans available for the public to see as part of public consultation?
What factors have been considered in ensuring this structure is stable and safe?
What assurances do we have that the sand in the sand bags is reasonably similar to the natural sand of the beach? (For example, color and grain size?)
Has a geologist been consulted?
What is the maximum life expectancy of the bags themselves?
Who will be maintaining these bags?
What assurances do we have that this maintenance will occur?
Who will be checking them?
Who will be paying for the maintenance of these bags?
What written assurances do we have that private cottage owners will be responsible for their maintenance?
Has a lawyer been consulted to find out what the liabilities are with the building of any sand bag wall on public property?
Do the sandbags themselves propose a fire hazard?
Are the susceptible to vandalism?
How is the structure installed and when?
Will any Provincial Crown land be removed or altered prior to sandbagging?
When the sand bags are removed will the cliffs or the beach be damaged?
What are the effects of removing these sandbags?
Who will pay for their removal?
I am well aware that some of these questions are complex however, they seriously need to be considered.
I appreciated the cautious approach will slow the process down however I strongly consider these questions need answers prior to any proposal getting the go ahead. Due to the possible ramification, I would suggest there is adequate time to seek answers, as there is no immediate need to approve any proposal in short order without full due diligence.
The lake and shorelines need your protection like never before.
I look forward to hearing from you and thank you in advance for your effort and considerations.
Please direct your emails and calls to:
Manitoba Water Stewardship
Box 11 – 200 Saulteaux Crescent, Winnipeg MB R3J 3W3 1-204-945-6398
Greg Dewar, Selkirk MLA firstname.lastname@example.org