FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Peace River Regional District has issued an update on the ongoing landslide situation at Old Fort, south of Fort St. John.
At 8:50 am today (October 9, 2018) all temporary entry permits were suspended to the Old Fort Evacuation Order area.
The Old Fort landslide, while it is relatively slow-moving, is changing on a daily basis, and at what does not appear to be a consistent rate. The Peace River area has a history of both slow-moving landslides and rapid failures. Slow moving slides can start off slow and then fail catastrophically. It is not known if this current landslide will stall, or the other extreme – a rapid landslide such as the 1973 Attaché slide that briefly dammed the Peace River – or something in between. From a public safety perspective, Westrek and the Peace River Regional District cannot support sending anyone into the area under the Evacuation Order until these questions are answered.
It is important to note that this information cannot be gathered accurately by placing boots on the ground (from a safety perspective) or by flying in a helicopter. Remote sensing techniques (such as LiDAR) is currently being used to collect more information and determine the size of the landslide, allows penetration of the vegetation cover and is the most accurate method. The Peace River Regional District has cancelled the entry permit for the gravel pit based on worker safety. The Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources has also issued a “stop work order” and all personnel have been evacuated from the gravel pit. Marten Geertsema PhD, PAg, PGeo from the Ministry of Forests, Lands & Natural Resource Operations, who specializes in landslides, will be in Fort St John on Wednesday, October 10th to assist with reviewing the landslide and data.
Under the Emergency Program Act, during a local state of emergency, the Peace River Regional District has the authority to both cause the evacuation of people and to control or prohibit movement to or from an area. For this reason, security has increased at the current checkpoints in and out of the Old Fort Community as it is NOT safe for anyone to enter the Evacuation Order Area. This step has been implemented due to an anticipated increase of public traffic in and out of the evacuated area due to the suspension of the temporary access permits. The RCMP will be assisting with this process. The PRRD asks for everyone’s cooperation with this process as we continue to work to support the public and keep them safe.