Province refuses to release Cherryville slide reports
CHERRYVILLE – It has been almost four years since a mudslide swept down a Cherryville hillside coming uncomfortably close to Joel Hriczu home.
Years later other area residents are still fighting to see two government reports on the slide.
They filed a freedom of information request (FOI), but the province turned them down saying both reports are being withheld.
“When we get things like this happening where there [are] all kinds of feeble excuses why they don’t want to release them it makes us suspicious,” says resident Eugene Foisy.
“If it is a legal reason they can’t release the report to us, just tell us so, but it looks to me like they are just scared to let us see what really happened up there.”
The slide happened below a cut block and residents believe the reports may contain lessons that could prevent future slides. They would like to see the reports released so others can learn from them.
“We feel that it is public information. There has been damage done to public assets and private property and we would like to know exactly what was the cause of that and how we could prevent it in the future,” says Hank Cameron who represents the area for the Regional District of North Okanagan.
Responding to the FOI request in a letter, the province points to four sections of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to explain why it isn’t releasing the reports.
One of the sections highlighted allows information to be withheld if it could cause economic harm to the government.
However, when Global Okanagan asked why the reports weren’t being released, the ministry said it was because the slide was still under investigation.
Cherryville residents have their own suspicions about why they aren’t getting to see the reports.
“I think it shows that somebody screwed up in plain words and they don’t want to admit to it. If not, just show us the reports,” says Foisy.
The province didn’t respond to Global Okanagan’s question about when the investigation into the slide would wrap up, but did say “information will be released” when the investigation does conclude.
The full text of the province’s response to the Cherryville FOI request is available below: