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How Surrey’s Coastal Flooding Affects The Crescent Beach Community

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Crescent Beach is a unique landmark, a popular destination among residents of Surrey and surrounding areas, and a community with an extensive history. Because of where it’s situated, there have always been changes to its shoreline and beaches from natural forces. The first dyke at Crescent Beach was constructed in 1913 and since then other layers of protection have been added. However, due to climate change, this coastal area can expect more frequent and severe flooding from storm surges and sea level rise, making it a focus of the Coastal Flooding Adaptation Strategy by the City of Surrey.

History buffs and interested residents alike will gain a lot of information from this beautiful document of Crescent Beach’s history. It takes us from the Ice Age through the formation of Crescent Beach and Blackie Spit, and paints a general picture of the original Coast Salish people and European colonization. Timelines and photos of the community’s attempts to protect its shores are also highlighted here. As well as being informative, this document contains original photos of landmarks including the Crescent Beach Swim Club which is still an integral part of life in this community. Originally a seaside cottage town where people vacationed for the summer, Crescent Beach has retained its charm. If you’ve walked through it recently, you will notice that everyone seems to know everyone, businesses and amenities are within walking distance and the line between recreation and residence is blurred.

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Photo Credit: S Francoeur

And if you haven’t made it out there recently, you can take a virtual walking tour right here.

As part of the Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy, a series of meetings – or charrettes – were held between May and September 2016. The charettes, or interactive planning meetings with stakeholders and designers present, were opportunities for residents and professionals in the field to work together to explore sea level rise. One of the main goals of the charrette meetings was to give residents a chance to provide direct input to the strategy from the beginning stages.

The community was asked to express their values around Crescent Beach: what they loved about their area, what their concerns were and what they hoped for the future. A full summary report is available here.

Three major themes emerged:

Community Connections

Residents expressed that the interactions they have with the natural environment and the members of the community were highly important to them. Regular activities for them included walking along the beach, spending time on Blackie Spit, birdwatching, fishing, kayaking, swimming, paddleboarding etc. It is a place they love to share with their children and grandchildren. They also spoke about the small town feel, how well they all know each other and the help and support available to them within reach. Social gatherings are common and cherished.

Complete Community

Because of the fact that businesses and amenities are closely situated, the residents feel that their community is complete. They value their local shops and restaurants and are concerned about the safety and prosperity of these.

Security For The Long Term

Residents of Crescent Beach want to see this community do well as far into the future as possible. They want to see their grandchildren enjoy the beaches and amenities. They want to continue growing their roots in the area.

Margot and Pixie were two residents who attended the charrettes and this is what they had to say about why they participated, the challenges they see regarding coastal flooding, and the opportunities they envision for Crescent Beach:

Do you spend a lot of time at Crescent Beach and surrounding areas? What have you noticed over the years? How do the stories of Margot and Pixie affect you? We’d love to hear your comments below!

Concerned or curious Surrey residents are encouraged to read more on the City of Surrey’s coastal flooding page or contact them directly at coastal@surrey.ca.

Taslim Jaffer
Taslim combines her love of writing and social change by telling the stories that build bridges among people. Her motivating forces are her 3 children and her INFJ personality. Taslim is a regular contributor to Huffington Post Canada and Yummy Mummy Club, and a columnist for Peace Arch News. She has romantic notions of travel writing across European countrysides and historic African towns but her heart belongs to Surrey, B.C. You can connect with Taslim on Twitter and Instagram @taslimjaffer.
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