The District of Sechelt has closed Seawatch Lane, west of 6649 Seawatch, to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic, although the five homes with driveways on Seawatch Lane can still be accessed.
But, the Seawatch Lane closure combined with the previous closure of Gale Avenue North means much of the Seawatch neighbourhood, around eight homes, is now behind concrete barriers which were installed by the district Friday afternoon to replace temporary barriers
A release from the District said the road closure, which took effect on Jan. 9 at 6:00 p.m. was done on the advice of Thurber Engineering as a result of a large sinkhole that was discovered in the Seawatch neighbourhood on Dec. 26.
“The sinkhole was in the magnitude of 400 cubic metres, which was later backfilled by the property owner at the direction of their geotechnical engineer,” the release said. “The district consulted with Thurber Engineering who scheduled further investigations. On January 9 Thurber recommended the immediate closure of the road pending investigation.”
The district said residents were informed of the closure by hand delivered notices, and some members of council met informally with Seawatch residents Thursday evening.
“It is unfortunate the situation has come to this. As this is a matter of public safety, we did not make this decision lightly and we understand the inconvenience this causes the affected families,” mayor Darnelda Siegers said in the district's release. “We hope, by continuing to share our engineering reports with the residents, this will allow them to make decisions on their best course of actions.”
Resident Rod Goy, who lives in one of the homes blocked by the new barriers, said he left the meeting feeling that "for the first time in many years" they had the ear of councillors. "They gave a commitment that they want to do something."
Goy's neighbour, Chris Moradian, said, "They have a desire and a will that they want to do something and that certainly is admirable and we thank them for [meeting us] last night in such a quick fashion. But they don't really know what they have to do."
Moradian also criticized the district for moving to install the concrete barriers before having a plan for emergency access. "Until [the district] has got an actual emergency preparedness plan in place and communicated [to us], they should not be blocking the road access. At any moment an event can take place that requires an emergency evacuation and you're not going to be able to respond."
Moradian and some of his neighbours were partly blocking the road Thursday afternoon to prevent it being fully barricaded until they've seen an emergency access plan.
Some homeowners, including the family that was forced from its home, have pending lawsuits against the district, the developer Concordia Seawatch, and several engineering firms including Thurber. At least one of those cases is scheduled to be heard in BC Supreme Court in 2020.
The district has estimated a full remediation of the geotechnical problems in the neighbourhood could cost on the order of $10 million.
The district said engineering crews will be returning to the area with a drill rig and bore hole team this week to continue their assessment, and monitor the roads and the district “will continue to act in the best interests of the municipality and its citizens.”