It was during a walk at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay beach when Tony Olynyk’s new business plan just clicked.

His business, ShellScape, replaces dying brown boulevards, and gravel and dirt driveways with the natural material of crushed, compacted seashells. It’s making a head-turning statement for coast loving customers and in this increasing drought, takes away the need for watering dying grass.

“Compared to gravel, I don’t think anyone really compliments gravel the way they compliment nice white shells like this,” said Olynyk.

“So I thought yeah, I can’t believe anyone hasn’t come up with it.”

He collects a load of shells, dumps it in place, then simply drives over it.

“When it rains the shells leach out calcium into the soil and promote growth,” said Olynyk.

“I’ve heard they stop weeds to an extent and I know gravel feels like Lego but when you step on this sometimes it just feels like sand on your feet,” he said.

The Nanaimo high school student, who is graduating soon, just started the company and is excited to see it grow across his hometown in the months ahead.

“Oh I’d be so proud,” said Olynyk.

“That would be a great sight to see.”

With shellfish farms up and down Vancouver Island, there are mountains of the raw material for Olynyk’s business. Ladysmith grower, Timothy Oyster Company, tells CHEK News it uses only a fraction of their shells to reseed and the company is more than happy to help the teen out to start his business.

“And it’s environmentally friendly so I thought it would be perfect,” said Olynyk.

The teen also wants to give back and is donating 10 per cent of all he earns to charity, Surfrider Vancouver Island.

Skye Ryan