Heavy rains seriously damaged the backyard of a waterfront Esquimalt home earlier this week, leaving the house precariously perched on an embankment along the Gorge Waterway.
“I see a retaining wall that looks like it was poorly put together. I see a set of stairs that are broken up pretty badly,” said Rob Wickson, president of the Gorge Tillicum Community Association, as he looked at the property from across the waterway.
It’s the first time a slide of this magnitude has occurred here, igniting concerns about the potential environmental impact.
“It’s heartbreaking to see any kind of impacts like this going on in our watershed. The watershed is extremely important. We don’t understand the value,” Wickson said.
For privacy reasons, the township of Esquimalt will not comment on whether a permit was in place. A building inspector has since determined the house is safe and structurally sound.
Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins says it will be the homeowners’ responsibility to remediate the property.
“At the end of the day, it’s private property,” she said. “The onus is on the property owner. I just want to make sure that if there is anything else we need to do to ensure the safety of those steeper slopes on the gorge, that we put those policies in place.”
Wickson says if nothing is done, a similar slide could happen again.
“We need to have some sort of management system that works,” he said.
– With files from Kylie Stanton