A local state of emergency and an evacuation order has been issued for the Seawatch subdivision in Sechelt, beginning at 1 p.m. Friday.
This means all residents in that neighbourhood of the coastal B.C. town must leave their homes and access to the subdivision is denied.
This comes following a sealed engineering report from Thurber Engineering, dated Feb. 6, which stated the subdivision was unsafe and residents and members of the public were at risk if they remained in the area.
In the report, it states, “the sinkhole hazard is increasing with time and is not confined to locations where sinkholes have occurred previously. There is a very high probability of at least one sinkhole collapse each year based on the recent history of the site.
“Future sinkholes or landslides could damage existing infrastructure such as underground utilities, roads or sidewalks, or private property including buildings and retaining walls. Injury or even death are possible consequences.”
Up until this point, the 14 families who own the homes were under an evacuation alert.
The road to the area, where a number of the homes are assessed at over $1 million, has been blocked off with concrete barriers since last month.
In a release, the District of Sechelt says it has contacted residents about the order and first responders will be on scene Friday. Emergency Social Services is available to residents.
WATCH: (Aired Feb. 8) Many residents of a neighbourhood in Sechelt are tearfully preparing to leave their homes, as they’re put on evacuation alert because of sinkholes they say the city and the developer should have seen coming. Jordan Armstrong reports.
The neighbourhood has been on evacuation alert since Feb. 7.
Residents have expressed frustration with the District of Sechelt, saying officials closed off access to their homes and called the situation “a disaster.”
The district has systematically avoided doing anything to help, said resident Ed Pednaud.
“It’s like death from a thousand cuts,” he told Global News.
On Friday, Sechelt Mayor Darnelda Siegers said they hope everyone complies with the evacuation order.
“The evacuation order applies to all residents regardless of age,” she said. “We hope residents put the lives of their families first and comply with the order as quickly as possible. We regret having to take this action but we did so to prevent serious injury or loss of life.”
Homeowners claim the district and the developer ignored the warning signs of unstable ground.
WATCH: (Aired Feb. 10) Sechelt residents on evacuation alert due to sinkholes say they’re getting mixed messages from local government as children are ordered out of homes due to the danger. Grace Ke reports.
“Likely, it will bankrupt us and most of our neighbours as well,” said Pednaud.
“Who can take a hit like this? Not many people.”
The developer released a short statement Friday to the media but is unable to comment further.
“The developer of the Seawatch housing development, Concordia Seawatch Ltd., has great concern and compassion for the homeowners and families that are now being required to leave their homes,” reads the statement.
Making matters worse, there is no help available from the province.
According to Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth, the area does not qualify for disaster relief because the possibility of sinkholes was identified before the development was built.
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The homeowners claim the district knew as early as 2006 that there were serious issues with the land under their properties and approved the development anyway.
Help set up for the families
A FundRazr account has been set up to help the families of the Seawatch neighbourhood.
Alternatively, an account has been set up at the Royal Bank, where anyone can make deposits.
Here are the account details: