Gonzales Beach residents call new construction ‘catastrophe’

WatchSome neighbours say it sticks out like a sore thumb, and they're even calling it an environmental catastrophe, but as Kori Sidaway tells us, it's all perfectly legal.

It’s a construction project that is leading to many questions by summer sunseekers on Gonzales Beach.

“Is that just a house? Or like is that just an add on to a house?” asked Travis Perlman, while staring out at the huge new wooden wall that’s popped up on Gonzales Bay.

“Actually it makes me feel quite sick,” said Jane Sherwin.

“This huge what we call the Berlin Wall went up and it’s just a catastrophe as far as we’re concerned to Gonzales Bay.”

“I was shocked,” said Stephanie Weinstein.

“I was surprised they were able to build onto the rocks.”

The mystery structure will soon be a series of retaining walls the owner says will re-enforce the slope before a new house goes up.

But these walls go right up to the tideline.

“I like the tidepool behind the rocks. We can’t get to it anymore unless it’s low tide, and then the tide pool is usually dried up,” said Rita Perlman.

“It’s disappointing.”

The homeowner, who asked to remain anonymous, tells CHEK News in a statement: “We did leave a portion untouched so the public will still have access to the rocks.”.

But for residents, access isn’t the only concern.

“There’s sometimes otter and mink on rocks. It’s just one more piece that’s taken away from the natural ecosystem,” said Weinstein.

And according to the City of Victoria, the walls are completely legal, with provincial workers even conducting an environmental review.

And many locals say building retaining walls this close to the high water mark, contradicts the city’s plan for the Gonzales Bay area.

Within the 2018 plan, the City of Victoria outlines “for waterfront development, encourage property owners to restore coastal bluffs and natural shoreline. New hard structures are strongly discouraged.”

“The city is so keen on the environment, and the plan is so keen on the environment, but it doesn’t seem in allowing this to be built that they jive at all,” said Sherwin.

And both old-timers and the next generation are worried that if these walls go up, they’ll be the first of many.

“This is for everybody, this is not just your beach,” said Travis.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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