Landslide risk in Quesnel prompts evacuation order, trail closures
5 properties in a hillside neighbourhood are affected by evacuation alerts or orders
The City of Quesnel, B.C., has declared a local state of emergency for a hillside neighbourhood due to landslide risk.
On Monday, the Cariboo municipality issued an evacuation order to a house located on Panorama Ridge — southeast of downtown — where residents won't be allowed to return until the structure is deemed safe by engineers.
An evacuation alert was also issued for four other properties along the same road, meaning residents must be ready to leave on short notice.
Panorama Ridge is an upscale residential area with views of downtown and the Quesnel River.
The city has also prohibited any use of the trails below Panorama Ridge.
"To ensure public safety, residents are being asked to stay away from emergency affected areas and obey all warning and hazard signs for their own safety and for the safety of city crews," the city's press release said.
Concerning landslide risk
Byron Johnson, Quesnel's city manager and emergency operations centre director, says the owner of the evacuated property discovered land movement under the house over the weekend.
"The owner of this property noticed there seemed to be some shifting of the house," Johnson said. "[He] couldn't open the doors when he got out of the house and looked around outside. [He] noticed some substantial cracking in the ground and some movement."
Johnson says he's very concerned about the property under evacuation order because he has never seen a landslide impacting the infrastructure of a residence.
"Prior to that, it was some slide along on the outside of the properties, which didn't impact houses," he said.
Quesnel has been affected by spring landslides over the years. Last May, eight properties on Maple Drive, south of downtown were issued an evacuation order and alert due to risk of a slide from flooding.
In 2018, washouts took out several parts of the West Fraser Road on the other side of the Quesnel River, forcing people to take a lengthy detour that added hours to their commute and the school bus route.
Now the city is also evaluating the land movement at Carson Elementary School near the river, where land slippage happened outside the fenced school field.
The city encourages its residents to sign up for the Cariboo Chilcotin emergency notification system to receive texts, calls or emails on the latest evacuation orders and alerts.
With files from Betsy Trumpener and Canadian Press