Old Fort frustration

[Editor's Note: The following is an open letter sent to the Peace River Regional District]

I find myself wondering how a residence, (7583 Old Fort Rd) that is in the direct slide path and directly below a house that has sustained considerable damage can be deemed to only be required to be under an evacuation alert since Oct. 18?

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The community of Old Fort is much further from the slide yet remains under an evacuation order. I have been told it is due to concerns about the relic landslide activating above Old Fort. I have sat with a geotechnical engineer working on the slide and have seen numerous LiDAR maps and Google Earth photos going back as far as 1967 with very little or no change to the hills above the community.

There has been no evidence that there has been any tension cracks, sliding, or general signs of activity in this region. Have studies been done on the hills above the homes on Old Fort road that are no longer under an evacuation alert or order? Or the places that were downgraded to an alert? Maybe these hills are also in danger of suddenly letting go.

It seems to me that the Old Fort community should have never been put on an evacuation order and only on evacuation alert but due to the fact that there was no power and no road access it was easier to place an evacuation order than to deal with getting power and road access. Now that the evacuation order was put in place due to “immediate danger to life” it is difficult to remove without studies being done to prove it is safe.

Yet some places close to or in the direct slide path have been deemed safe. We have been told that we have to wait for Westrek’s report to go to peer and legal review before the PRRD can determine the fate of Old Fort yet some places have had the evacuation orders and alerts changed without waiting for this report. I find this very confusing and would appreciate some clarification.

—Art Smith, a frustrated Old Fort resident 

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