A Forest Practices Board report on a slide at Laird Creek in 2011 (pictured) is being heavily criticized by those who filed the complaint.

Balfour slide report criticized

Several people who complained to the Forest Practices Board about a landslide near Balfour say they’re disappointed with the final report.

Several people who complained to the Forest Practices Board about a 2011 landslide near Balfour say they’re disappointed with the board’s final report, calling it “unacceptable” and “disturbing.”

In a letter to the board, John Beerbower, who has long worked in planning for the West Arm demonstration forest, says the report “fails to ensure accountability for the flaws” in roadbuilding and logging by BC Timber Sales that were identified as contributing to the Laird Creek slide.

The slide damaged the water supply to about 100 homes, forcing residents to use bottled water for a few months. Problems reoccured last spring due to erosion.

The 15-page report, released last month, came in response to a complaint from water users who asked for an investigation into whether a lack of professional diligence was to blame.

While the report made several recommendations to prevent future slides, it concluded BC Timber Sales’ practices were sound and that it acted responsibly following the slide.

Beerbower says although the report suggests ways to improve assessment and decision-making processes, it takes a “very narrow view” of the professional recommendations that need to be considered.

“This report fails to demonstrate the capability and/or willingness of the Forest Practices Board to ensure accountability in a case where the necessary result of protecting domestic water was clearly not met,” Beerbower wrote.

Fellow complainant Al Walters said for water users the report is “unacceptable on a number of levels” and “represents another significant failure to address our concerns.”

“It leaves us with the conclusion that the minimal regulations affecting forest licensees offer no real safeguards for water quality in domestic watersheds,” he said in prefacing a series of questions to the board.

Many things the complainants objected to in an interim report remained in the final version, Walters added. “To our dismay, this final report seems to conclude the landslide was actually an acceptable outcome.”

Bill Wells, a retired terrain specialist from Kaslo, was also sharply critical of the findings, saying the report justifies failures so long as professionals involved demonstrate due diligence.

“If forest licencees managers can demonstrate they tried within regulations to operate without harming downstream (licensed) users but failure occurs anyway, it is just too bad,” he said. “This is a third world system, in my view.”

BC Timber Sales local manager Shane Bowden said the Crown corporation is pleased the board’s investigation found their operational and technical practices sound.

“We also appreciated that the board found BC Timber Sales to have acted in a responsible manner after the slide event,” he said. “However, we remain concerned the slide occurred, despite our best professional efforts and that water users were negatively affected.”

Bowden said they’re taking the board’s recommendations seriously and using lessons learned from the Laird Creek experience to improve their planning and operations.

Last fall, BC Timber Sales deactivated the road upslope of the unstable area and seeded the slide channel with grass to minimize the risk of another slide.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Jumbo Valley to be protected, ending decades-long dispute over proposed ski resort

Development rights permanently retired for site of proposed year-round ski resort west of Invermere

Nelson Leafs lose to Dynamiters 4-3 in overtime

The game got off to a bizarre start early in the first period

On the job hunt with Nelson’s Make A Change Canada

The employment charity is organizing next week’s Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens game

FedEx distribution centre coming to Castlegar

Development permit for ground facility before council next week.

Heart, minds, and 100 years of the Nelson library

Past and future collide this year at the Nelson library, and it all kicks off this weekend

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Good Samaritan pays part of rent for B.C. woman facing eviction in can-collecting dispute

Zora Hlevnjak, 76, supplements her pension by collecting cans and receiving public donations

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Most Read