Posted May 8, 2019
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Kiteboarders and windsurfers in the Sea to Sky region are blown away by how quickly they’ve lost access to the two main beaches they can use to launch their equipment.
A delay in construction on a chinook salmon habitat project at the Spit is causing an overlap with a huge waterfront restoration project at Nexen Beach, also known as Newport Beach, in Squamish.
“It’s a good thing for sure for the salmon,” says Sam Medysky, a pro kiter who moved to Squamish to compete and train.
“But you know, that’s our access to kiteboarding in the whole Sea to Sky region,” he says.
Beach access at the world-class destination, the Spit, will be limited until at least May 15, says Edith Tobe, executive director of the Squamish River Watershed Society (SRWS).
Project delayed for seismic reasons
“Timing is all about the low tide cycles,” she says, adding that federal funding was given to help chinook salmon fry access the estuary where they spend time as juveniles, an important and vulnerable time in the fish’s life cycle.
“We are trying to put these culverts in so that the fish can be able to move between the river and the estuary at low tide. To be able to do that we have to do the construction at even lower tides,” she explains.
“That puts us smack dab in the middle of the spring tidal cycle.”
She says the original plan would have had the project under construction in December but it involved a bridge that wasn’t approved due to seismic requirements.
That set the whole project back a few months, leaving early May as the first possible time to begin work.
At Newport/Nexen beach, developers are dismantling wharves and undertaking an eight week reconstruction of the beach.
Nowhere to go
The Squamish Windsports Society (SWS) says it supports any improvements that help chinook salmon but would like to have had better communication throughout the process.
Nicky Layton is on the board for the SWS and says there could have been ways to keep access to the spit open during construction.
“Unfortunately in the last month there have been significant changes to the timeline [SRWS] were communicating out to the public, ourselves included,” says Layton.
“Last week they completely closed the road down without actually notifying any of the stakeholders ahead of time. They’ve posted on the road that the Spit will be closed until June 15, so everybody who goes out to look has been very upset.”
The SRWS and Tobe say no one was left out of the process and they’ve done their best to communicate updates in construction timelines.
While they can’t make any promises, Tobe says they are working their hardest to have the Spit reopened by mid-May.
Kiters and windsurfers can launch from most Vancouver beaches until May 1. After that, Ambleside and Boundary Bay are the only places they are allowed, but inconsistent winds make these less than ideal playgrounds.