Another sinkhole has formed at Sechelt’s Seawatch neighbourhood and is within throwing distance from a cluster of sinkholes that developed previously, including one in September.
The new sinkhole is located on vacant property, owned by developer Concordia, on the 6600 block of Seawatch Lane and measures approximately six metres (20 feet) wide with a cavernous interior and a depth of approximately six metres.
An excavator was on scene the morning of Dec. 27 to fill in the hole with rocks. The road remains open.
First responders have been made aware of the sinkhole, according to Rob Michael, interim emergency program coordinator for the Sunshine Coast. He was notified on Boxing Day. “At this point in time, first responders have been pre-notified in case the situation worsens,” he said.
“Currently the situation is well in hand with District of Sechelt staff, including an overnight watch in the area,” said Michael in an email. He also said Emergency Management BC and nearby residents have been alerted.
That did not include Elliott Held of Gale Avenue North, who lives downhill from the sinkhole and next to a condemned home from which residents were forced to leave after a sinkhole formed on the property. Held said he was notified on Dec. 24 by another resident, but as of Dec. 27 he had not been contacted by the District of Sechelt or the developer.
“We’re kind of on the perch,” said Held, who said he hasn’t been given any information about the current situation. “The only thing we know is that they’re filling that hole.”
The sinkholes are the product of geotechnical issues that began appearing in 2012 and that have required the district to close off sections of the road, resulted in a denial of occupancy permit for a nearby home, and forced a family to leave after their home was condemned. The debacle has also led to lawsuits against the developer and the District of Sechelt and a separate lawsuit between the district and the developer.
Sechelt Mayor Darnelda Seigers said she was informed of the new sinkhole Dec. 26, by a resident. “We immediately had staff attend the site and assess it. As the sinkhole was on private property, we posted a 24-hour watch to manage safety concerns and only discontinued the watch once the developer dealt with the sinkhole,” she told Coast Reporter.
Seawatch residents were vocal during the municipal election campaign and pushed candidates to commit to finding a solution.
“Council spent the holidays reading all the background material to get up to speed so as to be able to come together and discuss the situation,” Siegers said.
The district has estimated the cost of fully remediating the area at about $10 million.
– With files from Sean Eckford