Landslide buyout plan advances

Rosalind Duane

Assessments are complete on all of the nine North Vancouver District properties included in a recently announced buyout plan.

The fieldwork was done this week, and the next stage will be for the district to meet with the families to decide on the values of the properties and come up with an offer.

District staff planned to present assessment findings to five of the nine families this week, and the other three in September, said Colleen Brow, district spokeswoman.

Last Thursday, the district announced that it would offer buyout packages to nine families who were directly affected by the January landslide that pushed mud and debris from the Berkley Avenue escarpment onto Chapman Way below, destroying two houses, killing one resident and seriously injuring another.

The district also planned to hold two meetings this week for families whose properties border the buyout area.

About 12 families from Berkley Avenue were invited to an information meeting with the district on Tuesday night, and another meeting was planned for about 12 families located below the escarpment.

Those meetings were not public, but Brow said the district is planning to hold community information meetings to address concerns of residents in the broader slide area.

The purpose of the two meetings this week were to update the families on the work that has been done by the district, and to answer the residents' questions.

Both James Ridge, district chief administrative officer, and Jozsef Dioszeghy, director of environment, parks and engineering, were scheduled to attend the meetings.

In an interview with the North Shore News before the meetings, Dioszeghy outlined some of the plans for the area if the buyout offers are accepted.

He said once the district acquires the homes so it has unlimited access to the area, four houses at the top of the escarpment will be removed.

The backyards of those houses will be re-shaped to the way they were about 40 to 50 years ago before the area was subdivided and the houses were constructed there.

After the fill is removed, new vegetation will be planted, and Dioszeghy said trees and shrubs may be used to create a canopy to provide protection to reduce ground water penetration of rainfall.

"One of the objectives is to make (the area) a little bit park-like," he said, "but at the same time low-maintenance."

Dioszeghy said he is hoping the district can start removing the houses on Berkley Avenue within the next two months.

The district would then proceed with reshaping the slope, weather permitting, immediately following the demolition of the houses.

Although long-term plans for Chapman Way are still being considered, the buyout properties on that street probably won't be occupied in the foreseeable future, said Dioszeghy.

Bill Maurer, of the Seymour Valley Community Association, said the buyout plan is "good news" for those residents most affected by the slide.

He explained that neighbours in the areas bordering the buyout properties have varying needs due to the differences in their situations.

Many of the residents on Treetop Lane north of where the slide occurred have flat area behind them, so are less concerned about slope conditions than some residents on Chapman Way who have a slope right behind their properties, said Maurer.

He said he is confident many of the residents on Chapman Way, close to the buyout properties, would welcome a similar deal with the district.

"Others are living under the same conditions but they didn't have any direct impact from their properties from the slide," he said. "It's kind of more difficult if nothing has actually directly happened to your property."

published on 8/25/2005