A Slocan Valley couple is going to get help to remove their abandoned home from their property perched high above the Little Slocan River.
Scott Carlson and Christa Brakmann’s house is in danger of sliding into the river, as erosion eats away at the property.
The couple hasn’t lived in the building since the spring, and have moved to Castlegar.
But the house still remains a danger, and in November RDCK officials settled with the couple on a deal to help them get the building off the property before it tumbles down to the water.
The agreement was revealed in the minutes of the December RDCK board meeting.
“The purpose of the agreement is to make clear the understanding that the RDCK will work to remove the house, but that the liability ultimately still remains with the homeowners,” says Chris Johnson, the director of the RDCK’s Emergency Operations Centre.
“For example, if the RDCK is not able to remove the house due to safety concerns, and it falls down the bank and impacts the river, the RDCK will not be held liable.”
With the legal technicalities settled, the regional government and homeowners can begin work on demolishing the building and removing its materials. The couple faces a complete loss on what was to be their retirement home, and couldn’t afford to have it removed themselves.
While it’s a private building on private property, Johnsons says the RDCK has a duty to ensure the building doesn’t create an environmental hazard.
“All local authorities within B.C. are legislated to operate and maintain an emergency management program to manage and coordinate responses to emergencies within their political boundaries,” he told the Valley Voice. “In this case, the emergency is an imminent threat of a deleterious substance entering a waterway.
“Within our role in managing the emergency, our goal is to remove the hazard (the house) before it has a negative impact on the environment (the river and its ecosystem).”
It’s not known how much it will cost to remove the building from the property, as it’s still not even clear it will be safe to have work crews on the site. But Johnson says he hopes crews will be able to take down the home before spring runoff intensifies erosion on the property.
“Due to the nature of the unstable slope, we are, as of yet, unsure what a safe working distance from the edge will be,” he says. “We currently have geotechnical experts monitoring the slope to understand how active it is.
“From this data, a safe work distance will be determined, then a viable method of removal identified, and finally, an overall cost understood.”
Johnson says their first priority is the health and safety of the crews who’ll be asked to work on the site.
“If qualified professionals determine that the instability of the slope makes it unsafe for removal of the structure, we’ll have to look at other options,” he says.