A slow moving landslide is seen inching down a hillside in northern British Columbia, prompting the evacuation of nearby Old Fort, B.C., in an undated handout photo. A report from British Columbia’s chief inspector of mines says it may never be possible to tell what led to a slowly moving landslide that had the potential to wipe out a tiny northeastern B.C. community. B.C. Ministry of Forests and Lands, Marten Geertsema

A slow moving landslide is seen inching down a hillside in northern British Columbia, prompting the evacuation of nearby Old Fort, B.C., in an undated handout photo. A report from British Columbia’s chief inspector of mines says it may never be possible to tell what led to a slowly moving landslide that had the potential to wipe out a tiny northeastern B.C. community. B.C. Ministry of Forests and Lands, Marten Geertsema

Report finds no obvious cause of Old Fort landslide in northeastern B.C.

The ministry report does not address the latest slide

A report from British Columbia’s chief inspector of mines says the cause of a slow-moving landslide that has threatened a tiny B.C. community may never be determined.

The steep slope above Old Fort slumped over several days in 2018, tearing out the only road and prompting evacuations in the community of about 150 just outside Fort St. John.

The report, posted to the B.C. government website in October, says despite geotechnical assessments, the root cause of the slide remains “inconclusive.”

The first cracks in the earth were noticed in September 2018 at an active gravel pit at the top of the slope where work remains suspended after parts of it slipped 10 metres within hours.

The study says it’s not clear if a cause “will ever be determined with certainty,” but that the pit’s stockpile of gravel combined with natural slope instability and rain that was 44 per cent above average may all have been factors.

The report makes four findings, including one calling on the Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources to issue an alert aimed at improving industry awareness of geohazard risks at other B.C. gravel pits, reminding them to consider and plan for those risks.

Owners of all but a handful of properties were allowed to return to Old Fort by late 2018, but slow-speed slumping resumed again this year, buckling the enclave’s only road for a second time and prompting evacuation alerts.

The ministry report does not address the latest slide.

Whatever changes occurred before the 2018 Old Fort slide, the report says it was enough to change the condition of a marginally stable Peace River Valley slope, resulting in the slide.

“Given the large volume of the slide, the small changes in topography that preceded it, and the lack of a clear and definitive event trigger, it is possible that if the slide had not occurred on September 29, 2018, it could have occurred at some future date — whether triggered by natural events or human activity,” the report says.

The Peace River Regional District said in June that information from technical specialists had determined “the risk to the community posed by the (2020) Old Fort slide movements is low.”

The district’s website shows six properties, or parts of properties, remain evacuated due to the original slide, more than two years after it happened.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rocks thrown by individuals practising and junior teams can still go up and down the Quesnel sheets under current public health rules. (File Photo)
Quesnel Curling Centre hoping to salvage season

Manager Dave Plant said the club was keeping the ice in until updated rules come down Feb. 5

Quesnel's 2024 BC Winter Games bid gained support from the School Board and CRD joint committee this week. (Submitted photo)
Quesnel’s BC Winter Games bid clears hurdles

Both the school district and regional joint committee agreeed to support the 2024/2026 bid

McNaughton School is located in downtown Quesnel. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
McNaughton Secondary School reports COVID-19 exposure

The case marks the third exposure event in the Quesnel School District

The first cases were reported by the Nuxalk EOC on Jan. 7 (file photo)
COVID-19 cases climb to 25 in Bella Coola

The first cases were reported by the Nuxalk EOC on Jan. 7

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
536 COVID cases, 7 deaths reported as B.C. finds its first case of South African variant

Henry said 69,746 people have received their first dose of the COVID vaccine.

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Forestry companies in B.C. agree to abide by the cedar protocols based on traditional laws of the First Nation members of the Nanwakolas Council. (Photo courtesy, Nanwakolas Council)
Landmark deal sees B.C. forest firms treat big cedars like a First Nation would

Western Forest Products, Interfor among companies to adapt declaration drafted by Nanwakolas Council

A northern resident killer whale shows injuries sustained by a collision with a vessel in B.C. waters. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Coast Guard ramps up protections for B.C. whales

First-ever Marine Mammal Desk will enhance cetacean reporting and enforcement

Two toucans sit on tree at an unidentified zoo. (Pixabay.com)
BC SPCA calls for ban on exotic animal trade after 50 parrots, toucans pass through YVR

One toucan was found dead and several others were without food

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Letisha Reimer died Nov. 1, 2016 after being stabbed at Abbotsford Senior Secondary.
No evidence that killer was in ‘psychotic state’ during Abbotsford school stabbing: Crown

Second day of closing arguments at ‘not criminally responsible’ hearing for Gabriel Klein

Alan Davidson was sentenced to almost six years for abusing seven boys in the late 1970s and early 1990s. (Canadian Press file)
Full parole granted to former Mountie, sports coach convicted of sex abuse of boys

Alan Davidson convicted of abusing boys in B.C. and Saskatchewan in late ’70s, early ’90s

Most Read