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Port Stanley shoreline improvements to provide protection from severe storms

Grant Cameron
Port Stanley shoreline improvements to provide protection from severe storms

A series of climate-resilient infrastructure improvements are slated for the shoreline near Port Stanley, Ont. and within the Lake Erie beach town to better protect area residents and businesses from increasingly frequent severe storms.

The projects are being funded with $10.2 million from the Municipality of Central Elgin and $6.8 million from the federal government’s $2-billion Disaster and Mitigation Adaptation Fund (DMAF), which helps communities build infrastructure to better withstand natural hazards such as floods, wildfires and earthquakes.

“Flooding in the past from storm surges has come inland north to flood the beach area roads and affects access to homes and businesses,” explains Geoff Brooks, Central Elgin’s director of infrastructure and community services.

“We expect this project will protect businesses, residents and tourists from flooding and storm surges once complete.”

The work consists of four separate projects that will be undertaken over a five-year period starting this year.

A new, 120-metre breakwater will be built eastward from the end of the west breakwater at the harbour entrance. It will reduce the opening to the harbour from in-rushing storms.

The crest of the east headland breakwater will also be raised to prevent overtopping, flooding and erosion.

“The work has yet to be designed at this point, but heavy equipment will be required, and the breakwater may consist of a crib construction or sheet steel walls,” says Brooks.

Changes to the existing revetment are also required on the eastern faces that are not protected by the existing breakwaters. Engineers have determined changes do not need to be made to the southern and western faces of the headland.

Engineers will also develop a system of continuous sand dunes and well-developed dune-grass that will provide increased protection in the event of a storm surge.

“This work would take place along Port Stanley’s main beach area,” says Brooks.

The community’s stormwater management system is also slated to be upgraded. A new stormwater management collection and transfer service with capacity for up to five-year storm events will be installed for presently underserviced and unserviced areas.

Brooks says undersized stormsewers now contribute to nuisance flooding several times per year.

An environmental assessment is expected to begin on the stormwater system in the next month.

Brooks says all construction work is expected to be completed in 2028.

“All this work has been previously identified through studies and climate modelling,” he says. “Once complete, this enhanced flood protection will protect residents, businesses and tourists of the municipality.”

Flooding issues along William Street in Port Stanley have been caused by either undersized or not enough stormsewers in the area.

Storms have also caused problems for people and businesses in the area, especially those who live on Kettle Creek and Lake Erie.

Central Elgin officials say flooding near Port Stanley’s main beach has had a detrimental effect on nearby residents and those in the commercial fishing industry.

Central Elgin Mayor Andrew Sloan says both Lake Erie and Kettle Creek are integral to the municipality but it’s critical that the shoreline be protected from storm surges.

Funding for the projects “supports the completion of infrastructure that will benefit the residents, businesses and visitors going forward. We look forward to this and further partnerships with the Government of Canada in the future.”

“I think we have some work to do going forward, but I’m very pleased with the start of the process,” added London West MP Arielle Kayabaga in a statement noting the work will ensure residents in Port Stanley are better protected from the impacts of climate change.

Making adaptation investments now will have major economy-wide benefits later, she said, as every dollar that is invested in adapting and preparing for climate-related disasters can return as much as $13 to $15 in benefits.

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