News » Whistler

Landslide cuts wide swath

Destruction of access road, bridge may mean the end of a business



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Aerial photographs of the landslide show that large sections of the road and bridge are completely covered. Photographs submitted to Pique from Brian Allen show the hot springs, which are about six kilometres upstream from the slide, remain intact.

"Given that this is not the first time this has happened, not even the second time this has happened, I'm not sure what the Ministry of Forests and Range plan would be," Sturdy said. "Relative to the cost of rebuilding the infrastructure, there may be a question there of whether it's worth moving forward on it or not. Certainly we want to see the hot springs operational, but there's a lot of work to do before that can happen again."

The Ministry of Forests and Range isn't sure if it will rebuild the road or the bridge, given the instability of the area. Cheekwan Ho, media liaison for the ministry, wrote Pique in an e-mail that the ministry will be conducting an aerial and on-land survey in the coming weeks to assess the damage and what steps need to be taken to move forward.

"While we do not believe the slide impacted the Meager Creek hotsprings, we have not yet had an opportunity to assess damage to roads and infrastructure," Ho wrote.

"Until a full assessment has been conducted, it is premature to speculate on options to re-open access in the area."

SFU earth sciences professor John Clague said it's unlikely that the hot springs were directly affected by the landslide, which was a surface phenomenon. The springs are fed from deep below the earth's crust.

The big question he asks is whether the ministry will find it worth the money to rebuild a road and a bridge in an area that he said is likely to suffer landslides in the future.

"It's going to be an interesting discussion," Clague said.

Pitcairn, who also owns a commercial gardening company in the Lower Mainland, isn't too optimistic.

"If I were the forestry ministry I'd look at whether they're going to get good value for their money or if this is going to be a never-ending black hole they're throwing tax dollars into," he said.

"It's going to take years to stabilize that area. The chances of the government putting another bridge through there, knowing that it could be wiped out again and again and again - who knows?"