The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation voted recently to repair the 80-year-old pier at Jericho Beach, rejecting a previous staff recommendation to dismantle the structure.
A week before the vote, park board staff released a report that recommended demolishing Jericho Pier.
The pier had suffered moderate storm damage in November 2021, which led to its being closed.
Two months later, in January 2022, a combined storm surge and king tide – an exceptionally high tide that occurs during a new or full moon – caused additional and serious damage to the pier. Its deck was flooded and log debris destroyed much of the structure.
The pier remains closed to the present day.
The staff report said the pier was at risk of even more damage from future heavy weather.
The pier at Jericho Beach Park was originally part of a Canadian Air Force base that was established during the Second World War.
The pier was refurbished in 1977 and has been maintained and operated by the park board since then.
Located on a long stretch of beaches and recreational areas on the residential west side of Vancouver, the pier is a popular place to fish and take in expansive views of Burrard Inlet and the downtown skyline, as well as a place for marine rescue vessels to dock.
When the Journal of Commerce visited the pier recently, three people were seen using the decrepit facility to fish for crab, despite the rough seas and foul weather that day.
In the report that recommended demolishing the pier, one of the possibilities that park board staff considered was like-for-like repairs.
According to Andrew Seeton, the board’s senior engineer and engineering team lead, like-for-like repairs means replacing damaged decking, guardrails, beams, pile caps, piles and conducting selective repairs to the ramp and float.
This is in contrast to completely rebuilding a new pier.
The staff report said like-for-like repairs was not a good idea because of high expected maintenance and operations costs.
The biggest problem with a like-for-like repair, according to staff, is an estimated cost of $100,000 to $2.35 million annually to inspect the pier for storm damage and make repairs to it.
In addition, a rebuild would take until 2025 to complete.
Staff pegged the cost of completely rebuilding the pier at around $25 million.
The cost to deconstruct and maintain the breakwater over which the pier is built was estimated at between $1.3 million and $3.6 million.
Staff recommendations notwithstanding, park board commissioners — who are elected to their posts — voted for like-for-like repairs to the derelict structure, with the intention of reopening the pier to its previous service level.
Seeton said it is not yet known when the work will begin.
The commissioners who voted for repairs say the pier is well loved by residents and visitors alike.
They say the repairs should be considered as an interim measure, undertaken in order to give the board time to replace the pier with a more permanent structure.
Jericho Pier is not the only such structure that falls under the board’s purview. It manages a number of other piers throughout Vancouver, on Burrard Inlet and on the Fraser River. It also manages a variety of smaller docks and waterfront boardwalks at park sites in the city.
In contrast to Vancouver’s experience with Jericho Pier, the City of White Rock, a small city 26 miles south of Vancouver on the Canada-U.S. border, repaired and reopened the significantly longer White Rock Pier in August 2019, approximately eight months after the structure was severely damaged by a windstorm in December 2018.
White Rock’s municipal government approved a multi-year upgrade that began with interim repairs to restore public access right away, before the more complex work of rebuilding large sections of the pier with steel piles, a concrete deck and matching timber planks.
Westmar Advisors Inc. of Burnaby, B.C. won a 2021 Award of Merit from the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies British Columbia for its design of the replacement and repair of the White Rock Pier.
The pier was opened in 1914 and is the longest of its kind in Canada, extending 470 metres into Semiahmoo Bay.