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Updated: Sunnybrae slide area concerning

Ministry says the area is monitored but no further mitigation work is planned.
Sunnybrae resident Jim Anderson stands beside a rock that he says slid down Bastion Mountain this year.

The community of Sunnybrae sits below the imposing rock face of Bastion Mountain and the number of large rocks rolling down the mountain is concerning one resident.

Jim Anderson, who has lived on Sunnybrae Canoe-Point Road since 2003, says he is aware of three sizeable rockslides which have reached the road since April 2016, a number greater than he has encountered in the past.

Anderson said one slide took place in late April or early May and two more in July and August.

A Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) spokesperson said the rockfall in May resulted in a road closure until geotechnical engineers could investigate.

Anderson pointed out several sizeable chunks of rock laying alongside the road which he says have fallen in the past year and many more rest on the lakeshore below the road.

The slides are focused within an approximately one-kilometre area of the road west of Herald Park which has signs warning of the possibility of rock slides.

Slides in past years have left debris outside the marked slide zone.

Although there are no structures along the roadside within the slide zone, Anderson said he is worried about a vehicle travelling along the road being hit.

“If one of these hits your car it’s going straight through the roof,” said Anderson.

Sunnybrae has been an active landslide area in the past. A large slide in Dec. 1959 covered  approximately 300 metres of what is now Sunnybrae-Canoe Point Road, temporarily isolating eight families.

On Nov. 23, 1983, Scottie and Lois Dobie were killed when a 150-ton boulder, 15 feet in diameter and six-feet thick, came thundering down Bastion Mountain and crushed the bedroom of their Sunnybrae home.

The slide was blamed on water running through the mountain’s face, freezing and thawing and causing the rock to move.

Cliff Doherty, the Columbia Shuswap Regional District’s (CSRD) emergency program coordinator, said responsibility for preventing landslides rests with the province if they originate on Crown land, and with the property owner if they originate on private property.

Although the CSRD can help co-ordinate clearance if debris on the road is significant enough, Doherty said road clearance and monitoring of the rock face is the responsibility of MOTI.

"The ministry’s rockfall mitigation program annually assesses hazards around the province and our geotechnical engineers use this information to prioritize mitigative works. If residents in the area do see rock fall on the road in this area, we encourage them to report these events to our JPW Road Maintenances 247 emergency reporting line.  The number is 1-877-546-3799," said a MOTI spokesperson.

Anderson advocates preventative measures to reduce the number of large rocks rolling down the hill, whatever the cost.

“I’m a professional engineer, I believe in preventative maintenance. It’ll certainly be expensive, but then so is a life,” he said.



Jim Elliot

About the Author: Jim Elliot

I’m a B.C. transplant here in Whitehorse at The News telling stories about the Yukon's people, environment, and culture.
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