Lillooet Lake Estates residents looking for answers 

SLRD recommends evacuation after Risk assessment

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO SUBMITTED - RISK ASSESSED  The SLRD has recommended homeowners in the Lillooet Lake Estates area leave their homes due to risk of debris flow, such as this one that occurred in 2013.
  • file photo submitted
  • RISK ASSESSED The SLRD has recommended homeowners in the Lillooet Lake Estates area leave their homes due to risk of debris flow, such as this one that occurred in 2013.

Homeowners in the Lillooet Lake Estates and Heather Jean Properties area — located about 21 kilometres east of Pemberton — are staying put, despite a recommendation from the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District (SLRD) that they should leave.

"I don't think there's very many people who want to leave," said Chris Malthaner, a longtime resident of Lillooet Lake Estates.

"To leave your primary or principal asset behind and just walk away and basically start from zero? Is that what they're asking for us to do? That's pretty tough."

The recommendation came after BGC Engineering released its Catiline Creek Debris-Flow Hazard and Risk Assessment report in January.

The report identified risk zones in the area and provided three different options for mitigation.

"The first one is to basically just make the channel deeper and wider, the second one is to completely circumvent our community and go down the side, and the third is to catch it all up at the top, which is kind of unrealistic," Malthaner said.

"The community is working together with the SLRD to figure out some sort of solution to this problem."

The full report can be viewed online at www.slrd.bc.ca/catiline-creek-debris-flow-hazard.

SLRD board chair Jack Crompton said that work is ongoing and there is no strict timeline for deciding on a course of action.

"It's clear that there needs to be some work done to make that area safe and we are working hard with Lillooet Lake Estates and other interested parties to try and move that towards a conclusion that would allow safe use of those properties," Crompton said.

According to the SLRD, there have been three debris flows in the area since 2004.

Malthaner said the hope is that there will be some help from the province — at least on an emergency basis — as the province is a signatory on the land use contract and the debris flows are coming from Crown land.

"It's not because of anything we've done, it's coming down from Crown land through our community, and so hopefully funding will come from them to solve this," Malthaner said. "In my mind they're a part and parcel of this whole development, as is the SLRD for providing building permits to places which are now being told to evacuate, so both parties are liable in a sense here, and I'm hoping that funding will be made available to help us out."

But according to Greig Bethel, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, it's not likely at this point that the province will provide funding.

"The debris flows are naturally occurring in times of heavy rain, and not caused by provincial government activity," Bethel said in an email. "The regional district has not yet approached the province for funding. While we will continue to provide technical support, we are unable to finance the mitigation options recommended in the geotechnical assessment."

For now, homeowners in the area are left waiting for answers.

"If funds aren't available, then what happens?" Malthaner said. "There are people out here who have building permits for these houses that were built in zones that are now deemed to be hazardous in nature. People have been asked to leave, so is there going to be compensation for people?

"We're basically hanging in limbo, waiting for the next torrential rain to come, which does come here in B.C., and kinda going to bed biting our fingernails off."

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