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Zeballos wants B.C. to fix slopes outside of town before they come down

Slope has been an issue since 2018 wildfire, residents concerned they will be cut off
A tree fell on the only road into Zeballos in 2023. The SRD will be asking the province to help stabilize the slope and vegetation on Crown Land along the road. Photo courtesy SRD

The Strathcona Regional District wants the province to mitigate unstable slopes leading in to Zeballos.

In the years since the 2018 wildfire that threatened the remote North Island village and prompted evacuation orders due to the risk of falling debris, village authorities have noted “frequent deadfalls and rocks” coming from a Crown Land slope near the edge of the village, according to a request for direction sent to the SRD board on March 26, 2024.

The road in question, Maquinna Avenue, is the main route in and out of the village, and a landslide or rockfall on the road would effectively trap residents in the community.

“There is a slope instability which originates on Crown Land creating the likelihood that rocks, mud, soil and/or trees could fall on the Ministry of Transportation owned/operated road hindering access into Zeballos and possibly causing a vehicle accident should the debris fall on the road in the nighttime with limited visibility and a vehicle hits that debris,” the request says.

The village has done its own mitigation work within the municipal boundaries, but the Crown Lands are provincial jurisdiction. The report says that the Province has acknowledged and funded the hiring of a danger tree assessment specialist, “communication … to get the trees removed on the remaining Crown Land has proven unsuccessful.”

“There is a grant in for re-engineering the slope, but it still faces a lot of hurdles and hiccups,” said Zeballos director Julie Colbourne in the April 24 regional board meeting. “Essentially, what we’re asking for today is the responsibility of the slope of this Crown Land lie with who it belongs to.”

Marc Kitteringham

About the Author: Marc Kitteringham

I joined Black press in early 2020, writing about the environment, housing, local government and more.
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