Coastal protection and rehabilitation project of Anse du Sud de Percé

Facing the erosion of their shoreline due to a combination of rising sea levels, loss of ice cover, and changing weather patterns, the Town of Percé, Quebec, undertook an intensive cost-benefit analysis to determine the most effective means of mitigating the potential damages. One of the major industries in the town is tourism, with the attractive beachfront along the Gulf of St. Lawrence being a major draw. Ouranos, a non-profit organization based out of Montreal, was conducting cost-benefit studies regarding mitigation practices in several municipalities, one of which was Percé. The cost-benefit study was conducted for the region of Gaspésie, thus the results are representative of the entire region. The partnership between the City and Ouranos eventually lead to a mitigation method that is predicted to save approximately $68 million for the region of Gaspésie over the next 50 years.

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

The City of Percé, QC, faces a serious shoreline erosion problem. This is particularly troubling for the small city because tourism is an important part of the local economy and the scenic views of the shoreline are a major attraction. The shoreline is being threatened by a combination of sea level rise, loss of ice cover, and changing weather patterns. Of particular concern is the area of Anse du Sud, a central commercial, tourist, and cultural hub for the community. This area was particularly hard hit by major winter storms in 2010 and 2016 with substantial damage occurring to the recreational and tourism areas during both storms. The area was protected by a sea wall which required investments from both the local and provincial government to keep standing in the face of repeated storm events. In the absence of these protection measures, it is estimated that the shoreline would erode at a rate of roughly 15cm per year. The report by Ouranos used a cost-benefit analysis to determine the most financially efficient means of protecting the shoreline and ultimately settled on the method of replenishing the local beach with pebbles. This method is estimated to produce a net benefit of approximately $68 million over the next 50 years.

Identifying Actions

This project has its roots in the 2012 decision by Natural Resources Canada to create a Climate Change Adaptation Platform. This allowed for a national-scale forum of professionals from an array of different sectors with a space to collaborate on climate change adaptation priorities. As part of the platform, an Economics Working Group was created to help aid municipalities in making cost-effective climate adaptation choices. Ouranos, a member of the working group, set out to analyze adaptation strategies in multiple communities in Quebec and Atlantic Canada; Percé was one of those communities. Ouranos and the Laboratoire de dynamique et de gestion intégrée des zones côtières at the Université du Québec à Rimousk partnered with Percé on this project. The report was completed prior to the 2016 storm and Percé set out to garner interest and funding from multiple different branches of government. However, it was only after the major damages caused by the 2016 storm that they finally received funding to go ahead with the project.


The final decision was made to go ahead with the pebble replenishment method because it offered the highest cost to benefit ratio. Other methods considered were the construction of a new seawall, rock-filling the shoreline, installing a riprap, and replenishing the beach with or without groynes. In addition to being the most cost-effective scenario the method of replenishment with pebbles also offered the lowest up-front expenditure of resources. There are two factors that town officials have credited with the success of the initiative. The first is having strong relationships with the research community and the second was having a plan in place and ready to be implemented as soon as funding became available. The project received $17 million from the Government of Quebec, $3 million from the Government of Canada, and the remaining $1 million was put forth by Percé itself.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

The project was completed in the Summer of 2018 and received the National Urban Design Reward from the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada. A major lesson learned from this project includes engaging with the ministries during the entire process, in order to be sure that funds will be available for the monitoring stage. Currently, for the City of Percé, funding for the monitoring stage remains a challenge.

Next Steps

Monitoring and maintenance are of top priority for Perce in terms of next steps. However, pursuing funding for this have proven to be challenging.