EDITORIAL: Compensate all Johnsons Landing owners

How much are Johnsons Landing property owners supposed to take?

Only those who lost their primary residences in a slide at Johnsons Landing in 2012 have been compensated. Part-time residents are not eligible. Nor is the government able or willing to buy out owners who until last week were not technically allowed back on their properties.

How much are Johnsons Landing property owners supposed to take? When does the provincial government finally realize that enough is enough and compensate everyone for their losses?

The plight of many part-time residents resurfaced last week after Regional District of Central Kootenay announced it was lifting an evacuation order for the area.

While that sounds like good news, the fact is the situation really hasn’t changed.

More than two years after a deadly landslide, many people are still trying to recoup their losses. Rescinding the evacuation order will not help.

While property owners may now go back to their homes — which many have already been doing — they do so at their own risk. The RDCK is warning people not to go into the area at the same time that they are allowing people to go into the area.

And owners cannot rebuild or repair the massive damages without providing a geotechnical assessment of the land. That’s hugely expensive and risky, because owners don’t know what the assessment may find.

Adding to their dilemma is the fact that compensation was only paid to property owners who lost their primary residences. Anyone owning a summer home or vacation property did not receive provincial compensation. They own and pay taxes on the home, but can’t do anything with it.

Many have been left in limbo for two years and there is no immediate solution in sight.

It’s time for the province to bite the bullet, pay compensation to all affected property owners, buy out those in the highest-risk areas and let people go on with their lives.

Maybe there will be significant progress on this issue by the third anniversary of the slide.

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