UPDATE: Work begins to repair White Rock mudslide

UPDATE: Work begins to repair White Rock mudslide

Repair design expected to help determine cause of slope’s collapse

Crews began building a temporary repair Wednesday morning after a hillside mudslide in White Rock damaged multiple properties Monday afternoon.

The City of White Rock hired a geotechnical engineer to design a temporary repair “to address public safety issues” at the mudslide site, near the 1100-block of Martin Street, according to a statement posted to the city’s website and emailed to Peace Arch News.

Following the incident, the city evacuated people from four residences in the area, “as a precaution.”

“The slide occurred on private property, however with the potential for the slide to further, a geotechnical engineer was called in to assess the area,” the statement, issued at 5 p.m. Tuesday, adds.

As of Tuesday afternoon, one of the four residences to the south of the slide – which settled against the Victoria Terrace (15015 Victoria Ave.) condominium building – “has been deemed safe, and those residents are able to return to their homes.”

The city statement says the next step for the property owners and their insurance adjusters is to hire professionals to design a permanent repair.

“It is expected that more will be known about the exact cause of the slide when this permanent repair is designed.”

Victoria Terrace strata president Simon Bergen-Henengouwen said he was home at the time of the slide, but said he didn’t hear it.

“It must have been quite silent, just like a whoosh, I think,” he told PAN Wednesday.

He noted he was only elected to the role of strata president this week.

“This is what they call baptism by fire. So, welcome to the strata,” he said.

Bergen-Henengouwen said the power stayed on the day of the landslide, but was turned off Wednesday as city crews worked to stabilize the hill. He said debris from the slide hit a power box at the bottom of the hill.

BC Hydro outage map reported that 71 customers were affected, and that the power was expected to be restored by 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Bergen-Henengouwen said he has “no idea” what caused the slide, but speculated that it might be the result of a broken water main.

“I’m sure it was water pressure because there’s quite a large amount of water coming down the hill that continued for the last couple days,” he said, adding that the City of White Rock is “rife” with underground springs.

“I guess there’s only one way to check to see if it’s a leaking water main or natural water. It’s a fairly easy test.”

White Rock deputy fire Chief Ed Wolfe told Peace Arch News Tuesday that the area impacted measured about 150 by 200 feet.

“They lost a chunk of their backyard,” Wolfe said, referring to a home on Martin Street.

Aerial photographs of the damage show that sections of fence and concrete slid down the slope, and a portion of the foundation of 1155 Martin St. was left exposed.

Victoria Terrace resident Malik Dillon, whose property was not damaged, said the mudslide is “actually a good thing.”

“Because you’re going to get an absolute look at it now with the geotechnical from the city,” he told PAN Tuesday. “The people that live on Martin Street, they will probably get a more substantial look at their properties because obviously, the city can’t have this happen again.”

Dillon said he was away from home when the incident took place, and is interested to learn what caused the damage.

“I think this is probably going to be a pretty unusual situation that some water got in somehow that caused the thing to become unstable. I don’t think it’s a long-term concern at all because we have a pretty solid rock ground in White Rock,” he said.

In response to a request Tuesday to speak to a city official about the work, city communications co-ordinator Ashley Gregerson said no one was available “at the moment,” and asked PAN to email questions.