Old Fort landslide update - June 26, 2020

The Peace River Regional District says a temporary boat dock will soon be installed at Old Fort to taxi residents by boat to Taylor.

Road access remains severed to the community after a landslide reactivated on June 18. So far 57 residents have evacuated and registered for emergency support services, and the PRRD says planning continues for residents who have chosen to shelter in place. 

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The slide has destroyed 100 metres of Old Fort Road and moved it 235 metres toward the Peace River over the last week. The slide sat idle for close to two years after it first collapsed at the end of September 2018.

The Ministry of Transportation said the slide is now moving around 1 metre per hour, slowed by half from earlier this week. But it must slow to less than 1 metre per day before road reconstruction can begin, the ministry said. There remains no ground movement detected near residents, the ministry said.

Around 150 live in Old Fort, and those who remain are under evacuation alert.

The PRRD says household garbage is planned to be transported out by boat, and it plans to provide water supply and sewage holding in some capacity, though details have not been finalized.

 

On Friday, PRRD board chair Brad Sperling said there are currently no plans to issue an evacuation order. That recommendation will have to come from the province and its geotechnical engineers, who continue to monitor the slide to determine whether residents are in danger, he said.

In 2018, residents had to evacuate for more than a month at the onset of winter due to the potential danger. 

“We’ve learned a lot more since that time, and this time someone’s really going to have to tell us those people are in danger,” Sperling said during an interview on MooseFM. "So far they keep telling us they’re not."

Resident Art Smith says the mood for some in the community is better now than in 2018, as residents don't have to rush to evacuate and winterize their homes.

But there are still concerns about the long-term impacts to property values (a few were in the process of selling and moving), and the potential for the slide to continue reactivating, he said.

“Do we do this in another two years again? Or a year? There’s no stability now with even having access,” said Smith. He's chosen to remain in his home and quads up the hills to go to work.

Smith said many residents don’t want Old Fort Road rebuilt in the same place, unless the slopes are stabilized.

“Get rid of these sloughs here now,” he said. “If they leave it like last time, it’s going to go again.”

Sperling said it's the province's responsibility to build residents a safe, permanent road, and to effectively deal with the slide.

“The ministry is responsible for the road, and the slide is on Crown land,” he told MooseFM. “They have to decide what the future of those people is, and give them some comfort. They can’t be going through this every two years.”

Meanwhile, B.C.s information and privacy commissioner this week ordered the Ministry of Energy and Mines to provide it with a complete and unsevered copy of the records related to its investigation of the 2018 slide. 

The PRRD filed a freedom of information request in January seeking those records but the province refused to release them, saying disclosure would be harmful to law enforcement.

Monique LeBlanc has been assigned to investigate and mediate the case.

Read more: GPS begins to resend landslide data

Read more: Beaten rural roads threaten economy

Read more: Cecil Lake road repairs planned

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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