Watchdog chides government for role in 2014 Enderby, B.C., landslide
Government did not maintain forestry road and designed culverts improperly, report says
In May 2014, heavy flooding at Dale Lake triggered a landslide that washed out a forestry road and bridge near Enderby, B.C., in the north Okanagan.
With the Cooke Creek forestry road washed out, and mud and debris forced onto adjacent Mabel Lake Road, nearly 200 residents were cut off and 700 were left without power. A local salmon hatchery was also destroyed.
The area was impassable for two days.
A subsequent report in 2015 from the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources said human tampering with the culverts — large pipes that drain water — led to the sequence of events.
Now a report from the B.C. Forest Practices Board, the province's independent forestry watchdog, says the province should have done more to maintain the Cooke Creek forestry road and its culverts.
Tim Ryan, the chair of the B.C. Forest Practices Board, said while good regulations existed, they were not properly followed.
The board found B.C. Timber Sales, the Ministry-based licensee responsible for managing the forestry road, was required to do annual inspections on the structural integrity of the road as well as its drainage structures.
Instead, it discovered there were no road inspections nor any maintenance between 2006 and 2014.
The board also said the culverts installed did not meet standards.
"There were a couple of steps here that were missed. The regular inspection of the culvert, the maintenance of it, as well as the proper design of the drainage structure to ensure that we minimize the risk," he said.
Ryan said the Ministry and B.C. Timber Sales now have 30 days to respond with what actions they will take to ensure their own regulations are adequately followed.
Citizen complaint triggered investigation
The investigation was triggered by a concerned public citizen who said he had warned staff at the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources the culverts on the forestry road needed more maintenance.
Ryan said this person made three complaints between June 2012 and June 2013, often with photographic evidence.
In response, a culvert was cleaned out on one occasion, but there was no action taken on the others.
He said the Ministry's response was inadequate.
Ryan recommended that the Ministry make improvements to the way public concerns and complaints are dealt with.
With files from Daybreak South
To hear the interview, click on the link labelled Forestry watchdog chides government for role in 2014 Enderby, B.C. flood