A fissure that has opened up on a hillside above a Twin Lakes home is most likely a pre-existing defect that’s unrelated to earth works associated with a new subdivision, according to B.C. government engineers who examined the site.
The rift, which is approximately three metres wide and 10 metres deep at the top, made headlines last week after Sam Verigin, whose home lies about 300 downhill from the area off Highway 3A, went public with concerns about her safety. She’s worried that if the hillside lets go, rocks could barrel down the slope and into her home.
However, engineers have determined “it’s unlikely that there’s any imminent risk” to her home, said Murray Tekano, district manager for the B.C. Transportation Ministry, which is the lead government agency on the file.
“We don’t think that rock will come down at this time in a big mass. Our geotech engineers’ assessment is that the majority of movement has happened. What you’ll probably see is little bits of rock or chunks falling.”
Pieces that do fall off the face of the slope are likely to stop in the soft dirt at the toe of the hill or on the paved road beyond it, Tekano continued.
“Any that did make it over the edge, it’s unlikely, again, that it would affect the property owner below in our assessment... because the property and the house is at an oblique angle away from the slope. So again, we don’t view it having any imminent risk as a result of that.”
Tekano said it’s the engineers’ opinion that the fissure did not result from construction of the switchback above which it’s located. The switchback was built to allow access to the upper reach of the new 20-lot Kaleden Acres subdivision.
“The sense (engineers) have is that (the fissure) was something which had been evolving and probably this year, with increased dampness, the extended moisture and stuff hasn’t helped it,” Tekano said.
“The rock face has kind of come away from the material behind it and it’s moved a little bit down, but it’s (the engineers’) opinion that at this time that the majority of the movement has probably happened.”
Tekano said because publicly accessible Resolute Road lies below the unstable slope, the landowner will have to draft and execute a plan to make the area safe.
Kaleden Acres developer Mark Goulden said last week he will have his own engineers look at the slope and come up with a course of action. Goulden did not respond to a request for comment this week.
Verigin said the site was quiet over the long weekend, although someone has re-erected a barricade to keep people off the switchback.
The bed-and-breakfast operator said she was told by B.C. government staff that she would be kept updated on a planned course of action, but hadn’t received any news as of Tuesday morning.
Her story was reported in several media outlets last week, which she hopes will put pressure on authorities to remedy the problem quickly.
“Hopefully something positive is going to come out of this,” Verigin said.