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Past landslides have devastated Summerland

Incident in 1970 claimed one life

Landslides in late April and in May are not the first in history of such slides having occurred in and near Summerland.

The slides, at the bottom of Summerland Hill, occurred at silt bluffs.

Earlier slides of silt bluffs have also affected other parts of the community.

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On Sept. 27, 1970, around 5:45 p.m., a landslide above Lakeshore Road (Shaughnessy Avenue) in Summerland’s Lowertown destroyed three homes.

Stan Etter, who was walking by the homes at the time, ran into the Gale home and rescued Lucie Gale, who was waist-deep in debris. She was taken to the hospital and was suffering from extreme shock. Her husband Fred Gale was killed in this landslide.

The slide occurred when a block of silt fell from an almost vertical silt bluff and disintegrated. Reports from Oct. 1, 1970, Summerland Review said the earth came from a bluff more than 100 metres high. The piece that broke off was around 20 metres wide. As it came down, it brought trees, roots and bushes with it

The slide covered a 60-metre stretch of Lakeshore Drive with up to four metres of silt.

A report from Public Safety Canada states that the failure is thought to have been caused by the development of water pressures in stress relief joints in the silt bluff.

A second slide occurred on Lakeshore Drive on Sept. 15, 1992, around 600 metres south of the 1970 event.

That landslide smashed into the garage of a home and covered a 45-metre stretch of the road with up to five metres of silt.

There were no injuries on this slide, but vehicles and boats in the area were destroyed.

In both cases, irrigation work was occurring near the site of the slides.

In addition to these two slides, a 2011 report by Dwayne D. Tannant of the University of British Columbia identified multiple slides in and around the community. Silt bluff slides have been reported in 1942, 1951 and 2004.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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