Residents living in the West Quesnel Land Stability (WQLS) initiative area didn’t get good news during Quesnel’s city council meeting on Jan. 18.
A report from city manager Byron Johnson noted the area had moved 84 mm during 2020. Between 2013 and 2019, the average movement was only 13 mm. Johnson added no further major investments are planned to mitigate the slide.
“We can’t speculate what that movement would have been, maybe it would have been much more,” he said during his report.
“We know that these 84 mm is a very high amount of movement.”
Over $17 million in provincial, federal and municipal government funds has been invested to try and hinder the slow-moving landslide under West Quesnel.
De-watering systems including 23 pumping wells, 13 horizontal fan drains and additional stormwater infrastructure.
A new storm sewer mainline on Avison Street will be installed in 2022 for $640,000 and a rebuild of the roads and storm sewer on Patchett Street is planned for 2023, with a cost estimate of $950,000. Both projects will be funded through the city’s capital funds.
Johnson’s report noted that further investment from the provincial or federal government is unlikely, and if more de-watering equipment is installed, people living within the slide area will have to pay a local tax to help fund it. The city spends $70,000 each year to maintain the current equipment.
“We needed some time with the data that we were collecting, with the drainage system that was being installed, to figure out whether or not we were getting any purchase in this very expensive science experiment,” mayor Bob Simpson said after the report, noting ground movement is detected every year.
“I think the answer is ‘yea-no-maybe’, and not a lot.”
No more de-watering infrastructure is planned to mitigate the slide, with Johnson calling any discussion of a potential tax “academic,” adding there was no area that was “crying out” for more infrastructure.
“The engineering on this area does not suggest that more subsurface drainage would have a significant effect on the land movement,” his report reads.
The city also expects no provincial funds from Emergency Management BC to cover damages to be coming to residents, noting the province doesn’t consider a slow-moving landslide a disaster due to the time frame of any movement.
“We’re closing the book on a promise that previous councils have made, that somehow there was going to be redress for individual homeowners who have seen their homes pulled apart by this,” Simpson said.
“The answer to that is there won’t be.”
Councillors re-iterated that everyone living in the area should take a close look at their BC assessment valuations, and appeal if the value seems too high. Assessed values in Quesnel have risen drastically in the last year, including in the slide area.
Quesnel council has submitted their findings to BC Assessment.
Some properties in the slide area are now allowed to have mobile homes built, when previously no construction had been allowed.
“Council and property owners should expect that building regulations will always be more stringent in the study area,” the report reads.
Further consultation with people living in the slide area is planned after COVID-19 public gathering rules relax.
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