The election in Sechelt is being fought over “high level” issues such as water supply, affordable housing, spending and taxation, and the pace of development. But perhaps no issue captures the current council’s minimalist approach to crisis management as revealingly as the Seawatch sinkhole debacle.
More than a year ago, the District of Sechelt’s own engineering firm warned council that “injury or even death is a possible consequence” of failing to take measures to control ongoing erosion in the West Porpoise Bay subdivision. Thurber Engineering also warned that failing to act soon could result in the problems spreading south from Seawatch and damaging public infrastructure and private properties in other subdivisions – “if they are not already affected,” the report noted ominously.
This warning came almost two and a half years after a family of five was forced to abandon their dream home because a monster-size sinkhole emerged overnight on their property. The warning came after a fresh sinkhole had appeared at Seawatch and amid desperate pleas by one resident for the district to “fix the roads and repair your broken infrastructure, which are causing damage to private properties.”
Last week’s report of yet another sinkhole formation led to renewed calls for the district to act, and the gloves were off when it came to reviewing council’s performance on the file.
“This is what happens when you have a mayor and council dedicated to doing nothing and focus all their efforts on denial, refusing to accept responsibility, covering up past mistakes and ignoring expert recommendations,” wrote two Seawatch couples, Chris and Joanna Moradian and Rod and Donna Goy.
The most damning indictment of this council, however, appears on page 10 this week in a letter by Erin and Ross Storey, the couple who fled their North Gale Avenue home in February 2015, shortly after council took office.
“The lack of action, compassion, and fight our elected officials have demonstrated on this issue is a disgrace to this community,” the Storeys bluntly declare, calling council “the single biggest impediment to resolution.”
The Storeys have cause to be more than a little bitter. When the district told them to vacate their home in 2015, they were offered zero help or assistance. Asked about it later that year, Sechelt Mayor Bruce Milne said there were no “mechanisms in place” and “no systems in place” for that kind of response. He also compared the Storeys’ plight to a family that loses their home due to an electrical fire, disingenuously ignoring that district infrastructure is a major part of the equation at Seawatch.
Milne talks about upholding Sechelt “values.” Darnelda Siegers promises (to discover?) the “courage to lead.”
Hollow words for the people of Seawatch.