Homeowner eagerly awaits New Year
Geotechnical report will determine fate of Blueridge area home.
By JUSTIN BEDDALL Staff Reporter
Dec 29 2005

For Nancy Van Insberghe, Christmas may come in January.

That’s when District of North Vancouver council is expected to receive a geotechnical report that will — in all likelihood — determine the fate of her home, located at the foot of the Blueridge Escarpment area.

Van Insberghe owns one of the nine properties that the District of North Vancouver had planned to purchase in the aftermath of the January 19th slide that killed Eliza Kuttner and seriously injured her husband Michael.

Although Van Insberghe’s home is directly adjacent to the Kuttner’s, she recently learned that the District — which has already reached settlements with eight of the other homeowners — would not be offering her a full buy-out package.

The news came as a shock to Van Insberghe after the District had stated in August that it would buy the nine homes “after a geotechnical investigation confirmed that these properties have either a lower than acceptable factor of safety or may be affected by future landslides.”

But, according to the District, the preliminary assessment of her home concluded that it was only necessary to purchase a small portion of two-acre property — the driveway area, which was impacted by the slide.

“There is no known geotechnical risk to the property or the house,” a press release issued by the District on Dec. 21 noted.

Two weeks ago, District of North Van spokeswoman Colleen Brow told The North Shore Outlook: “After analyzing the property and assessing its degree of risk, the District, as well as the province, concluded there was a need to buy a portion of the property. That was a decision made by the District and the province together after assessing the property’s degree of risk.”

After a series of unsuccessful correspondence with District officials, Van Insberghe, who did not return a request for an interview by The Outlook during the week of Dec. 15, went public with her story, which garnered a spate of pre-Christmas news attention.

That may or may not have prompted the District’s latest announcement.

“The District is continuing discussions aimed at finding a successful outcome for Nancy Van Insberghe, the property’s owner, who wishes to divest herself of the entire property,” noted the Dec. 21 District release.

It continued: “Because there is an insurance coverage issue associated with the property, the municipality is trying to resolve the ongoing concerns of Ms. Van Insberghe without exposing its taxpayers to the risks of owning a potentially uninsurable property.”

The release goes on to state that both the District and the provincial government are working to find a solution agreeable to both parties.

Jarek Jakubec, a principle in the Vancouver-based engineering company SRK Consulting, is in the process of drafting DNV council a letter in regard to Van Insberghe’s property.

He says that to his knowledge the geotechnical risk report on the District’s website does not properly address the overall safety issues relating to her property on Chapman Way.

“Yet I was told this is the report on which the decision was based,” he said.

Jakubec, whose interest in the home on Chapman Way is as a District resident, not as a professional engineer, said issues such as the structural integrity of Van Insberghe’s home in the event landslide are not covered in the report. That may, however, be addressed when a new report on the landslide risks of all homes in the Blueridge Escarpment area is released in mid-January.

According to the District, that report will include more information on Van Insberghe’s property.

“In light of the upcoming geotechnical report, additional information concerning the insurability of the lands purchased along the escarpment, the Council’s desire to fully understand any potential risk the purchase of this property might present to District taxpayers, Council has committed to a careful and thorough discussion of all aspects of the situation,” the District’s Dec. 21 release concluded.

Van Insberghe did not return a call from The Outlook for this story. The District of North Vancouver, meanwhile, is closed until Monday, Jan. 2.