Landslide-hit N.L. town gets move-out order

The provincial government has condemned 23 properties in Daniel's Harbour, a community plagued by landslides.

One-third of community ruled uninhabitable, residents told

The Newfoundland and Labrador government has condemned an additional 23 properties in Daniel's Harbour, a community that has been plagued by landslides for years.

Residents of the small town on the Northern Peninsula were given the news by provincial officials Monday evening.

Mayor Ross Humber said he and others in Daniel's Harbour were told that the properties have been condemned for safety reasons because it's only a matter of time before there is another landslide.

"The way it was explained to us last night," Humber told CBC News, "it's like a giant tube of toothpaste, and whenever the cap was on that tube of toothpaste, you can put pressure behind it as you like, and it's not going to move. But once that outside plug erodes away, then the pressure from underneath, that clay liquefies, and everything moves out underneath."

Humber said the 23 condemned houses and other buildings make up about a third of Daniel's Harbour.

A study earlier this year said Daniel's Harbour, hit by a series of landslides over the last three years, is likely to be rocked again —possibly by a massive disaster.

The most serious landslide occurred in April 2007, when a bungalow toppled over a crumbling cliff and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Humber said the prospect of another collapse of inhabited ground worries government officials.

"That's what they're frightened of. They don't know when it's going to happen. They know it's going to happen, they just don't know when."

Residents of the condemned homes won't have to leave immediately. Humber said they are being given eight months to a year to find new homes in other locations.

The province will compensate people who have property in the condemned zone, said acting municipal affairs minister Tom Hedderson in a news release Monday.

"Affected property owners will receive compensation at the replacement value of their properties," he said.

Hedderson said the decision to move people was made following consultant reviews of the condition of the site.

"Future landslides are difficult to predict, and there remains substantial uncertainty about the timing, trigger and magnitude of potential landslides in these areas," he said. "We are not willing to risk the lives of residents and further damage to infrastructure and feel that for the protection of individuals who reside in these safety zones, we will evacuate these areas."

The province initially relocated 10 property owners in Daniel's Harbour In 2006 because of safety concerns. The safety zone was first expanded in June of this year to include six properties in the nearby community of Trout River.