March 24, 2017 8:24 pm

‘It is just too risky’: Swansea Point residents oppose logging proposal

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A Shuswap family is shuddering at the prospect of more logging on the hill above their home. They fear proposed work will lead to devastating landslides.

They’re well aware of both the risk and the devastation after living through natural disasters in the area before. However, the logging company said they won’t go ahead unless it’s safe.

Some of the proposed logging is slated for a hillside above the Swansea Point neighbourhood, south of Sicamous.

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The community is no stranger to natural disasters — and Lois Schurek’s family has seen it all. Her parents lived in the area in 1997 when tonnes of debris came down Hummingbird Creek.

“There was a slide up above us where hectares of land slipped into the creek, caused dams and broke. [It] then came through and destroyed everything: my parents’ home, their garage, their little summer cottage. Everything was filled with six to eight feet of rock,” she recalled.

In 2012, the small community was hit by flooding after the creek breached its banks, washing out the highway and damaging homes.

“Cars were floated into the ditches. It reminded us of 1997,” said David Schurek. “It was very scary. Personally, it was traumatic.”

Now news that forestry company Tolko is considering logging uphill from the couple’s home has the Swansea Point residents worried the proposed logging could trigger a third disaster.

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“[There is a] very good possibility there will be another slide,” David Schurek said. “The creek bank will let go and we will have another debris flow.”

Lois Schurek insists she will move if the logging goes ahead.

“Someone else can die in this house — because someone will,” she said.

Logging would mean fewer trees up-slope to absorb moisture and help hold soil in place.

“It is just too risky. There are enough trees around in places where it won’t affect residents,” said David Schurek.

Tolko didn’t provide anyone for an interview with Global News.

“We want to reassure residents that we are in the initial stages of planning and assessment and will not proceed with any new cutblocks and roads until our assessments are complete and indicate that we can put a plan in place that allows us to conduct harvesting activities in a safe and sustainable manner,” wrote Tolko spokesperson Janice Lockyer in a statement.

The company said planning could take over a year to complete.

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