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Saanich park watchdog calls for replacement of Mount Douglas beach stairs

Erosion from water flows causing safety concerns, says Darrell Wick
The bottom section of the concrete stairs leading to Mount Douglas Beach are listing, with soil underneath undermined by high water flows from Mount Douglas Creek and the ocean. (Photo courtesy of Darrell Wick)

Friends of Mount Douglas Park Society members have safety and long-term environmental concerns about the eroding stairs leading down to the beach in the park.

Society president Darrell Wick said the bottom platform now has creek water flowing under it, while the bottom three stairs are ready to give in.

“These stairs need to be closed, abandoned and replaced with an alternate route,” he said.

District of Saanich communications manager Megan Catalano said parks staff are aware the bottom section of the stairway is being undermined by the ocean and Mount Douglas creek.

“This has been exacerbated by the most recent heavy rains and storms. In dynamic natural systems, particularly along an active beach, it’s not uncommon for hard infrastructure to be affected in this way,” she added.

Parks staff recently erected caution signs to make people aware of the uneven steps, and are currently exploring the feasibility of constructing an alternate route to the beach, Catalano said.

Issues of this kind in the area are a direct result of the change within the Gordon Head watershed over the past 50 years, Wick said. Water that used to soak into the ground filling the water table is now sent to Douglas Creek, since what used to be permeable farmland is now non-permeable roadways, houses and driveways, he added.

The high water level in the creek is possibly a result of previous planning and engineering decisions regarding the Gordon Head watershed, Wick noted.

“Funds to make a new beach route and to remove the existing concrete stairs is necessary because of these previous engineering decisions and shouldn’t be taken from other park projects – perhaps engineering should pay.”

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