Landslide buyouts continue

Jane Seyd

ALMOST 11 months after a landslide rumbled down a slope in Blueridge, killing one woman and destroying two houses, the District of North Vancouver has closed deals to buy out seven homes in the area immediately affected by the slide.

In August, the municipality announced plans to buy out nine properties directly above and below the damaged escarpment, demolish the homes and turn the neighbourhood back into a park.

The province agreed to pay for 100 per cent of the buy-back plan.

The district has now completed deals for four properties at the top of the slope, including homes at 2157, 2191 and 2205 Berkley Ave.

The municipality has also completed a deal to buy out the property of Jacqueline and Larry Perrault at 2175 Berkley Ave. where the slide started that smashed through the home of Michael and Eliza Kuttner. The Perraults are still locked in a legal battle with the district about who is responsible for the slide.

At the bottom of the slope, the district has also taken ownership of homes at 2290 and 2274 Chapman Way and 2318 Treetop Lane.

On the five properties for which sales information is available, the municipality paid anywhere from a low of $606,937 for one house at 2290 Chapman Way to a high of $747,000 for a neighbouring home at 2274 Chapman.

Purchase prices ranged from $112,000 to $152,000 above the last available assessed value of the properties.

District of North Vancouver spokeswoman Colleen Brow said the municipality expects the total of purchase agreements to remain within the $6 million estimated for the buyout plan.

The district is expecting to finalize a deal on an eighth property, where the Kuttner home once stood at 2440 Chapman Way, within the next two weeks, said Brow.

The Kuttner family is still pursuing legal action against both the municipality and the Perraults. Eliza Kuttner was killed when the mudslide pushed a torrent of debris through her house while her husband Michael Kuttner is still recovering from his injuries.

There is so far no deal, however, on one of the nine houses originally announced as part of the buyout. Brow said after analyzing the property owned by Nancy Van Insberghe at 2430 Chapman Way "and assessing its degree of risk" the district and the province decided they only needed to buy out a portion of the property.

Last month, Van Insberghe sent a letter to both district councillors and council candidates pleading with them to reconsider that decision. In the letter, Van Insberghe said she was "completely devastated" after being told the district was no longer willing to buy her home. Van Insberghe said the January landslide came within seven metres of destroying her home and caused structural damage. "I cannot live in my home for fear of another slide," she wrote.

Brow said talks with Van Insberghe are continuing but refused to comment further. Calls to Van Insberghe were not returned.

Nobody is living in any of the homes the district has bought above or below the slope. Brow said the district plans to demolish the homes during dry weather next spring or summer.

published on 12/14/2005