Residents of a resort on Shuswap Lake were able to convince the Columbia Shuswap Regional District board that logging should be halted on a hillside above their homes due to concerns with erosion and the risk of landslides.
Catherine Spanevello, vice president of the Totem Pole Resort Strata, presented to the CSRD board at its April 15 meeting, noting the hazard posed to the 32 homes in the strata which she said are built on an alluvial fan. The resort is located near the far eastern end of Sunnybrae Canoe Point Road near where Bastion Creek empties into Shuswap Lake.
Spanevello noted other destructive landslides which have taken place on alluvial fans similar to the one Totem Pole is located on. She made specific mention of the series of slides which took place along Sunnybrae Canoe Point Road in 2017, destroying homes and claiming one man’s life.
The concern about slope stability felt by Spanevello and her neighbours is magnified by the decision by BC Timber Sales (BCTS) to sell the logging rights to a trio of cut blocks located uphill from Totem Pole Resort. Spanevello told the board of Totem Pole Resort residents’ concerns about the effect the removal of trees will have on slope stability.
The blocks in question are all east of the Bastion Creek ravine.
This is not the first time the plans to log above Bastion Creek have been challenged by local residents and the CSRD.
A Spring 2019 letter from the CSRD responding to a BCTS request for comments on the cut blocks notes that the blocks are just outside the area studied in a 2018 Geomorphic assessment of Bastion Mountain, but goes on to say that it is likely that similar hazards exist above Totem Pole Resort.
The CSRD board followed up with an August 2019 letter seeking a temporary logging moratorium for the area. The reply from the office of Doug Donaldson, the B.C. Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development (FLNRORD), stated that the blocks were in the early stages of planning at that time with hydrological assessments, terrains stability assessments and other work still to be completed.
In the three years since the possibility of new cut blocks above Bastion Creek was raised, Spanevello said BCTS has not been cooperative and that Totem Pole residents have had to obtain information through a freedom of information request.
Spanevello presented further research done by Totem Pole residents led by a retired professional geoscientist. The findings compiled into a report for the CSRD directors show the BCTS’ due diligence work to manage risks related to the new cut blocks relies on a 20-year-old debris flow analysis. The report states there have been advances in the knowledge of debris flow processes and new techniques for assessing debris flow hazards. It suggests that the new information might alter the conclusions of the 20-year-old study.
Spanevello told the CSRD board that BCTS’ terrain expert recommended in an addendum to the professional reports that consideration be given to completing a new study of debris flow events in Bastion Creek.
Following Spanevello’s presentation, CSRD Area C Director Paul Demenok proposed another letter to FLNRORD asking for a moratorium on logging until the ministry has conducted a full risk assessment and identified mitigation measures. The regional district board supported him and other directors recounting similar slope stability and flooding concerns in their areas.