Action demanded over Cooke Creek slide

Rural Enderby director wants Ministry of Forests to improve process

Assurances are being sought from the Ministry of Forests that another major slide won’t occur in the Kingfisher area.

A Forest Practices Board report challenges the ministry’s road  maintenance and culvert design after the Cooke Creek slide in 2014.

“We can’t have this happen again,” said Herman Halvorson, rural Enderby director.

However, the FPC says the ministry’s Okanagan district and B.C. Timber Sales did not  comply with legislation or risk management policies,  procedures and systems.

A public complaint was filed with the FPB after two culverts at the mouth of Dale Lake failed and sections of the road were washed out in the 2014 debris flood.

The complainant says he raised concerns with district staff about the condition of the culverts, but the FPC claims they weren’t pursued.

Halvorson says his residents must be confident that all steps necessary are being taken to ensure the integrity of infrastructure, like Mabel Lake Road, and their safety.

“They (ministry) better have systems in place for monitoring and road maintenance,” he said.

According to the Forest Practices Board, the BCTS did not inspect or maintain the road between 2006 and 2014, although ministry policy required annual inspections.

The FPB also says the district installed a culvert that was too small to withstand a 100-year flood, which is a requirement of the Forest Practices Act.

Halvorson is not impressed with the ministry.

“They should have proper records kept so everything is looked after properly,” he said.

The ministry has stated that B.C. Timber Sales did conduct regular inspections of the road, but they were not as well-documented as required.

“As requested by the board, the (Okanagan-Shuswap) district office and B.C. Timber Sales will be developing an action plan within the month so the public can be reassured that the necessary road inspections are occurring,” says the ministry.

However, the ministry insists the Cooke Creek debris flow is site-specific and believed to be caused by human tampering of the beaver-proof culvert.

“The board could not and did not find that ministry/B.C. Timber Sales activities were the cause of the wash-out and debris flow,” states the ministry.