As a coastal community, we’re fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful and ecologically diverse regions on the planet. The question is: how to inhabit the waterfront in a way that respects and preserves it? As soon as we start to make use of an area – by building homes, putting in roads, or creating a park – we risk damaging the very traits that attracted us to it in the first place. In the process, native flora and fauna can become displaced and may disappear forever. Locally, the shoreline modifications at Point Holmes in the Town of Comox come to mind, but this is just one of many examples.
As inhabitants of these coastal ecosystems, it’s obviously in our own interest to preserve the natural values that keep us attached to these places. Fortunately, the tide is turning, and the kind of uninformed and careless foreshore landscaping of the past – think lawns and concrete retaining walls to the water’s edge – is giving way to new approaches.
My wife, Tanis, is a biologist who specializes in aquatic ecosystems. Recently, she completed an excellent training program called Green Shores, which is a credit and rating system to help landowners develop or landscape their shoreline in an ecologically-friendly way. If you own a waterfront property, or if you’re a contractor or developer, you may want to consider this forward-thinking approach to shoreline development.
A voluntary program based in BC and Washington State, Green Shores helps to preserve natural shorelines in a way that’s both aesthetically pleasing and beneficial to wildlife. Its principles make shorelines more accessible and secure by eliminating drop-offs and walls, while preventing erosion and flooding and protecting marine life. Green Shores is new, but has been very well received by BC municipalities, who are starting to incorporate Green Shores ideas and incentives into their own planning and permitting processes. Thus, using Green Shores principles will generally help a shoreline development get through the regulatory process more smoothly.
John Gower Design will be offering Green Shores planning and design to interested homeowners starting in 2017. We are pleased to participate in such a positive program that helps landowners keep their shorelines healthy while still protecting their homes and investments.
(photo from the Green Shores For Homes website)