A controversial subdivision planned on the Alouette River waterfront has been laid low by a landslide.
Maple Ridge council had approved the 26-home subdivision on 240th Street, despite objections by the Alouette River Management Society (ARMS), Katzie First Nation, and local people concerned for the environment.
The provincial government stopped the development, and that may have been a life-saving decision, because November’s rains brought a landslide to the site.
Coun. Ahmed Yousef, who opposed the project, said at least two of the proposed homes on the site were in the path of the debris.
“Having seen photos of the landslide, and how it came down, this is exactly why I was opposed to it. There’s too much working against it,” Yousef said.
Yousef opposed the development, agreeing with ARMS that it would have a negative effect on the river and riverside habitat, was in danger of flooding, and concerns about slope instability have now been proven.
It was fortunate the slide came before any building, he said.
“The landslide was actually a blessing, in that nobody was hurt and no houses were hit,” said Yousef. “There’s at least two houses we might have had to recover people from.”
As the project got close to city council approval, the Katzie contacted the municipality and asked for consultation. They were denied, and accused the city of bad faith engagement. Once the city gave final approval to the development in June, the Katzie said they would take their case to the provincial government.
The province refused the application in September, stopping the development.
According to the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, developer Trisand Properties submitted an application to the province on Feb. 20, 2019 for permission to infill a portion of Latimer Creek, a tributary of the Alouette. The developer would then construct a channel within the alignment of existing ponds and associated riparian habitat as compensation for impacts to habitat.
Trisand had planned to appeal Victoria’s decision. The first hearing was scheduled for Dec. 14, before an Environmental Appeal Board, with both the Katzie and ARMS granted intervenor status.
Then the November landslide made Trisand abandon their appeal.
Letts Environmental Consultants informed the appeal board, saying “On the morning of Dec. 1, 2021 and following another cycle of heavy rains, a portion of the above-mentioned development site experienced a slide that has significantly changed the landscape. Therefore, please consider this letter as our formal notice to withdraw our appeal in its entirety.”
ARMS president Ken Stewart agreed that it was an I-told-you-so moment for his group, because ARMS had argued that the developer had not provided the city with adequate reports.
He noted that Trisand would have infilled part of Latimer Creek, and then constructed a channel as salmon spawning habitat. But the geotechnical report had recommended the same channel site be set aside for a swale, because of the unstable slope. Had the slide happened after development, that channel would have been hit by the slide, as well as three or four houses, according to his sources.
ARMS could foresee a slide, he said, but “we never thought it would be this bad.”
“It’s a done deal,” said Stewart. “The appeal has been dropped.”
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