Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Jericho Pier Renewal

with 3 comments


Jericho Pier is a regular destination for our walks, but I have many more photos taken from the pier than of the pier itself. I thought it might be a good idea to record what is there now, before work starts. Then I took a look at the City webpage

The Vancouver Park Board, in partnership with the Disabled Sailing Association, is renewing the aging pier at Jericho Beach and providing an accessible dock for sailors with disabilities.

The pier is a popular destination for locals and visitors as well as for fishing and crabbing. The ramp and float on the east side of the pier are used for emergency boat landing.

The reconstructed pier will:

  • Provide an accessible floating dock to provide for users of all ages and levels of mobility, accommodating up to 15 sailboats for the Disabled Sailing Association’s adaptive sailing program

  • Provide seating and views of Burrard Inlet and English Bay

  • Offer recreational fishing and crabbing opportunities

  • Accommodate future sea level rise

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 3.45.22 PM

So it looks like I have some time. It also looks like there is a conceptual design already although  not on the webpage at the time of writing. Ken Ohrn on the PriceTags page does have a rendering – but without any link to where he got it from – so I won’t steal it.

If you cannot make it to the open house at pier tomorrow  11:00am to 2:00pm, presentation materials and an online questionnaire will be available September 16 to October 2, 2017.


Written by Stephen Rees

September 15, 2017 at 3:58 pm

3 Responses

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  1. It’s an unrealized opportunity to not just rebuild an existing pier but, with a little imagination, to expand it and build more. There is a strong innate attraction to exploring shorelines, and getting out over the water is part of that.

    I believe a large pier in Vancouver would become a major destination. And by large I mean hundreds of metres out beyond the shoreline. Large piers in San Diego, Newport Beach, Santa Cruz and Brighton are engineered to take the battering of the open sea. The relatively sheltered English Bay shouldn’t present a big design challenge.

    Entering and walking on a pier needs to be part of a journey with several attractions along the way and a large destination at the end. In my opinion, Vancouver should seriously consider a large pier with a cluster of concessions or even a full service restaurant way out on the end, but reject any notion of building public parking on it (Santa Cruz) with the exception of service and emergency vehicles, and eliminate any consideration of carnivals or casinos (Brighton). Nature is enough for Vancouverites, and having a good coffee or a beer with a meal on a large viewing deck (or series of stepped decks) a kilometre out into the Bay with the North Shore mountains as a backdrop, we really don’t need to bother with anything more to entertain us.

    Having said that, the Kitsilano Yacht Club, as a public facility with provision for primarily small craft, would be a highly complementary use on a new, large pier joined to the well-travelled waterfront seawall system. Passenger ferries and an emergency vessel dock would also dovetail well with a new pier. There may be a call to combine a second accessible dock for sailors with disabilities into a second pier.

    I predict winter storms will actually attract people to venture out. My first experience with the ocean as a young lad on a road trip from the Prairies was at the Imperial Beach Pier (620 m) in San Diego extending out into the open Pacific with 6 m January storm waves crashing against the bottom and shaking it. Awesome.

    The Santa Cruz Pier (830 m) was even more memorable because they placed cut-outs in the deck to allow people to observe the sea lions sleeping on the timbers below. I recall that the provision for parking on the pier was a distraction to the pedestrian traffic, but this does indicate that designing a pier needn’t be timid, as this pier too juts out into the roaring surf with several stores, cafes and cantilevered viewing decks along the entire length.

    The time has come to consider a bold 1,000 m pier on Vancouver’s shoreline. It’s not like it hasn’t been done before.

    Alex Botta

    September 19, 2017 at 10:07 am

  2. I share your enthusiasm for seaside piers. They were always a feature of any holiday we took when I was a child. In the UK any seaside resort had at least one pier – some several. Unfortunately, the years have not been kind to them, and many have succumbed: fires seem to be a frequent problem, plus of course much more severe weather events. At one time piers were essential points of the transportation system – the steamer trip to the seaside was part of the fun. But the railways provided unbeatable competition for speed, frequency and convenience. British piers are (mostly) no longer financially viable and need the support of volunteers and fundraisers.

    Just because there are plenty of precedents that show they are possible, does not necessarily mean they are necessary. The great lack here – for instance at White Rock, or the pipe at Iona Beach – when you get to the end there is nothing there. All you can do is turn around and come back.

    Stephen Rees

    September 19, 2017 at 10:27 am

  3. I agree that a pier needs to be programmed with attractive amenities, and a good choice of food / beverages at the end would be one of the most important. Public art could be another. Using the wind for large mobiles and whirlygigs really starts the imagination rolling. Lighting art and beacons have great possibility here. Multiple level viewing decks with unique spiral stairs joining them would certainly invite a crowd. A sculptural, naval-themed mast / tower serving as a lighthouse will demarcate the end even in the fog.

    I was involved in the reconstruction of a pier on the Fraser River, now part of a very active public park. It was formerly a dock and barge ramp facility for a large construction company. About half of the creosoted piles needed to be replaced (this was 20 years ago). Today creosote would not be allowed.

    Jericho Beach may be a bit far away to justify such a large pier, but a structure that joins land near the more centrally-located Kits Beach (I’d prefer west of the pool as a replacement for the Kits Yacht Club pier) would attract lots of locals and visitors, and remains in direct contact with the Cornwall, Point Grey and seawall bike / pedestrian route to Stanley Park via False Creek. Kits Beach is well-connected.

    West Coast storms have been increasing in intensity and frequency with climate change. The sea is slowly rising. With all that in mind, the pier would be constructed from Cor Ten steel or concrete piles and stoutly designed to withstand the biggest storms. Buildings on the pier will have to be supported by concrete-filled caissons. The decking could be made from simple concrete panels for longevity set into a pattern with various tints and hues. Raising the pier deck elevation after a few decades should be possible by designing the ability to insert an additional horizontal pier section, and could become a notable way to measure storm surges and the rising sea. Like the Santa Cruz pier, I’d like to see stepped panels or cross members placed near the water below that encourage harbour seals and sea lions to rest under the deck with appropriately-designed viewing cut-outs and openings. Marine life would be well-served with educational signage on the pier.

    Unlike the Massey site with unknowable depths of soft alluvial soils, most of Vancouver is underlain by hard glacial till and sandstone. Bearing capacity should not be an issue.

    The cost will be an issue, but not an insurmountable one in my view once the advantages and its potentially huge popularity are known.

    Alex Botta

    September 19, 2017 at 4:11 pm

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