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Some victims of Johnsons Landing slide say they received no compensation: One year later

On July 12 it will have been a year since the deadly Johnsons Landing slide.

More than 300,000 cubic metres of debris slide down the mountain to the shore of Kootenay Lake, killing four people, burying several homes, and leaving almost 24 others vulnerable to another slide.

But residents say they have received no compensation.

Since the slide, a Geo-technical report prepared by the B.C. Government has concluded that as many as 18 properties are vulnerable to another slide.

Fourteen are considered ‘very high risk’ because they mountain above the slide is still unstable.

“They don’t know when it will come,” said resident Harvey Armstrong, who lives right on the edge of the debris field. “There are cracks up on the hillside that are apparently widening, so it’s pretty obvious at some point it will come down.”

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Residents are still paying taxes on the property, and today in the Legislature the NDP demanded the government compensate property owners who have lost everything.

“The government suggested that the province has no capacity, or legislative authority to pursue buyouts. Honorable speaker, the premier made a clear commitment to the current justice minister. Why will this government not honour the commitment of the premier?” asked NDP opposition leader Adrian Dix.

Justice minister Suzanne Anton said more than a million dollars has been spent at that site already, both with technical and financial support.

For residents that remain under evacuation order, the fact that roads and utilities have been restored does not help them much.

Residents involved in the North Vancouver slide in 2005 were given compensation, but Anton said this is a different situation.

“Sometimes to prevent future damage, we will buy properties,” she said. “That one in North Vancouver was an example of that. But we do not have a program that allows us to go and buy homes that are adversely impacted by landslides, by places sometimes washed away, and rivers and so on. We don’t have that kind of program in British Columbia. We do have a program to help people.”

Armstrong said he wanted to sell the property in Johnson’s Landing and use the money during his retirement. “Of course that’s gone,” he said.

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– With files from Geoff Hastings.

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