Nickel Beach Dunes

Niagara Coastal is restoring 6,600m2 of coastal dune habitat at Nickel Beach; Port Colborne’s most popular beach destination. In partnership with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority, the City of Port Colborne and VALE Canada Ltd., this project engages community members in local actions to contribute to a healthy and resilient Lake Erie coastal ecosystem.

The coasts of the Great Lakes are under threat from the impacts of our changing climate. High water levels, more frequent and intense storm events, and decreasing lake ice cover are resulting in unprecedented rates of erosion throughout the Great Lakes.

Blair Holinaty, Supervisor, Recreation and Marina with the City of Port Colborne has personally witnessed this degradation. “As a result of major storm events in recent years, the coastal dunes at Nickel Beach have seen significant erosion, resulting in public safety concerns, and significant impacts to neighboring properties”, comments Holinaty.

To mitigate ongoing flooding and erosion, much of the Great Lakes shoreline has been hardened with stones, breakwalls, and other human-engineered structures. While providing a “quick fix”, this has had the unintended consequence of disrupting natural coastal processes and exacerbating impacts further along the coast.

Nature-based solutions, which focus on working together with nature, are a proven alternative strategy to  address these complex challenges. “Nature-based shorelines are one of the strongest tools we have in mitigation of a changing climate”, adds Gregary Ford, Executive Director of Niagara Coastal.

Natural shorelines provide immense value through:

  • filtering stormwater runoff;
  • accumulating and stabilizing sediments;
  • providing habitat for wildlife; and
  • protecting against flooding and erosion.

Through the support of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s EcoAction Community Fund, Niagara Coastal is working with the community to implement nature-based solutions. The collaboration to restore the coastal dune at Nickel Beach is one such project that is currently underway to increase shoreline resiliency on Lake Erie.

“This partnership is a true example of our collaborative approach and ongoing commitment to shoreline resiliency through nature-based solutions,” adds Geoff Verkade Senior Manager of Integrated Watershed Planning, and Information Management at NPCA. “This project serves as a great opportunity to call the coastal community to action and further engage them on the issues facing our Niagara shorelines.”

The first phase of the restoration is now complete. On Friday August 12 community volunteers joined Niagara Coastal and the project partners to install more than 600m of snow fencing along the eroding coastal dune.

The snow fencing serves two main purposes;

  • It keeps people and vehicles away from these sensitive areas while the dunes regenerate.
  • It acts as a wind barrier helping to deposit and trap wind-blown sand, accelerating the dune’s growth over time.

“We’re proud to be a part of this important dune preservation project,” said Nadeem Khan, Manager of VALE’s Port Colborne Refinery. “The Nickel Beach dunes have been enjoyed by our employees and this community for more than 100 years and we look forward to supporting initiatives like these that will preserve them for future generations to enjoy.”

Local organizations and community members will be invited later this fall to assist with the second phase of the restoration. This Coastal Day of Action will revegetate Nickel Beach’s dune with native coastal plants, furthering the accumulation and stabilization of sediments across the shoreline.

Learn more about how you can get involved with the restoration work this fall at


A message from Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority