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Economic impact of rockslide still being totalled

Hotels report 20 to 80 per cent cancellation rate

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A section of granite just north of Porteau Cove gave way at roughly 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday, just missing a northbound Perimeter bus with one passenger on board. The windows on one side of the bus were broken by falling rock before the main part of the cliff gave way over the highway. Nobody was injured, and Ministry of Transportation engineers initially said it would be five days before the highway would reopen.

Dave Crebo, a spokesperson for the ministry, said the cause of the slide was unknown.

“At this stage nothing has been identified as a trigger, beyond this being just a natural slide occurrence that sometimes happens in British Columbia, or wherever you build a road through the mountains,” he said. “Earthquakes have been dismissed, the one in (Los Angeles) that day was just too far away, the Sea to Sky construction was dismissed because there was no work near that area. It was raining, but there’s nothing obvious that could have been the trigger.”

The cost of the cleanup, which had crews working around the clock, is still being tallied, although one engineer suggested that costs were in the range of $1,000 per hour to remove roughly 16,000 cubic metres of rock — 10,000 of which fell in the initial slide, and another 6,000 that fell when an overhanging slab of granite was blasted away, and crews scaled any remaining loose rock from the cliff wall.

Crebo says there were a number of reasons why the cleanup went faster than expected.

“For all our work crews, having that (Sea to Sky Highway Improvement Project) equipment handy was definitely a big help, but one of the biggest factors was how well the technical engineers managed to remove the remaining overhanging rock, and break some of the large boulders down to size,” he said.

“Another thing that helped was that the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans gave us permission to dump the rock into Howe Sound, which we were told we couldn’t do at first and that the alternative was to truck all the rock out.”

Most of the events planned for the weekend took place as scheduled. The Canadian Barbecue Championships took place at Dusty’s in Creekside with a record number of spectators. Only a handful of registered teams missed out on the event.

The Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival, celebrating its 51 st anniversary, also went on as planned with the majority of competitors either taking the Fraser Canyon-Duffey Lake Road around or finding another route.

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