Offshore reefs could help protect vulnerable historic lighthouse

A fix is in the works for historic West Point Lighthouse to protect it from erosion. The work would include installation of offshore reefs and improvements to the existing sea wall.

Installation of artificial reefs at West Point would be similar to those in Souris

The shore at West Point was ravaged by the remnants of post-tropical storm Dorian. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

A fix is in the works for historic West Point Lighthouse.

The work would include installation of offshore reefs and improvements to the existing sea wall.

The lighthouse, and adjacent beach in Cedar Dunes Provincial Park, are under threat from shoreline erosion. Damage from the remnants of post-tropical storm Dorian in September spurred development of the plan, by the province and a private consultant.

"The beach took quite a beating in that event and tripped things to the level of critical," said Mike Davies, president, Coldwater Consulting.

Erosion has been washing away as much as two metres of beach a year on average, said Davies, but Dorian took up to eight metres of beach in just one day in West Point.

In addition to offshore reefs, the plan would see a stone headland installed at one end of the beach, and use of armour stone along an access road to improve the existing sea wall.

Ideally, Island sandstone would be used, depending on cost and availability.

"So we're not bringing in foreign substances and scattering them down the beach," said Davies. "It fits the ecological landscape."

Offshore reefs and a stone headland at West Point would help protect the beach and existing sea wall. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The reefs at West Point would be similar to two artificial reefs installed along the beach in Souris in 2018. They were designed by Davies' firm.

"It was a demonstration of how we can improve protection of the shore by rebuilding the beaches," said Davies. "You get healthier dunes, you get healthier beach."

Community leaders are applauding the plan.

"This is a positive step forward," said Harvey Stewart, chair of the West Point Development Corporation.

The cost of the work will be about $1 million or more, according to Stewart.

The province is now seeking federal funding. Permits are required from Fisheries and Oceans Canada for installation of the offshore structures.

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