Resident says NVD reneging on deal
Partial buyout of landslide-scarred property leaves homeowner fuming.
By JUSTIN BEDDALL Staff Reporter
Dec 15 2005

One of the nine landslide-affected homes scheduled to be purchased by the District of North Vancouver is no longer being considered for a complete full buy-out package, leaving the homeowner in a precarious position.

The home in question — located at 2430 Chapman Way — is next door to the home that was destroyed during the January 19 landslide that claimed the life of one of its occupants, Eliza Kuttner, and seriously injured her husband.

“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,” explained District of North Vancouver spokeswoman Colleen Brow. “That was a decision made by the District and the province together after assessing the property’s degree of risk.”

In a Nov. 9 letter to Mayor Janice Harris, the home’s owner, Nancy Van Insberghe, stated her displeasure over the situation.

“I was completely devastated to be told in the last few days that the District may no longer be willing to purchase my home at 2430 Chapman Way, as both the District and Province promised three months ago,” she wrote.

In August, the District announced at a press conference that it would be purchasing nine homes — including the residence at 2430 Chapman Way.

The District noted in a press release that the decision to buy the homes was made “after a geotechnical investigation confirmed that these properties have either a lower than acceptable factor of safety or may be affected by future landslides.”

At the time, then Mayor Harris and District CAO James Ridge told the media that the homes would be purchased at full-market value, for a total estimated in the neighbourhood of $6 million. Following January’s slide more than 100 homes were evacuated.

Van Insberghe noted in her letter that her home suffered structural damage as a result of landslide.

“As I stated before I cannot live in my home for fear of another slide,” she said.

Then, on Nov. 30, she wrote a second letter to Harris, mayor-elect Richard Walton and council.

In it, she noted that she has been homeless for 10 months and received no support from the District.

“No one even has the decency to answer my letters,” she wrote. “My life’s savings are tied up in a property that cannot be sold to anyone other than the District. I have incurred thousands of dollars of legal and appraisal fees following a process initiated by the District that has led nowhere, and no one will even tell me what is going on.

She continued: “The events of the last 10 months have had, and continue to have, a significant impact on my health.”

Brow said she was unaware of the actual percentage of the Chapman property that the District was prepared to purchase.

She did confirm that the District has reached full settlements with seven of the nine homeowners — with an eighth deal pending.

“All of the homeowners were encouraged to get independent studies done of their properties which they did, as well the District hired assessors to inspect the properties,” Brow noted about the settlement process.

Both parties then negotiated a final settlement total that was vetted by the province. She said she didn’t have a final buyout cost.

“At this point we don’t have the final because the discussions aren’t complete,” she said.

As for the fate of Van Insberghe’s property, Brow said. “We are continuing to work with the homeowner. We are still meeting with the homeowner, we are talking with the homeowner, this is ongoing. We’re communicating with her regularly and we will be meeting with her in the near future. This is an ongoing dialogue. We’re continuing to work with her.”

Brow said the homes purchased by the District at the top of the slope would be demolished and turned into green space when the weather permits — and geotechnical engineers green-light the project. The homes at the bottom of the escarpment, meanwhile, will be demolished this spring or summer.

In the next month the District will be installing 20 more piezometers in the slope that will allow geotechnical engineers to measure ground water and rain water levels remotely in a live data stream rather than reading them manually.