The recent disaster at Johnson’s Landing, near Kaslo, BC, is reminiscent of a landslide that occurred at Mara, BC on July 11, 1997, almost fifteen years to the day before the Johnson’s Landing event.  Fortunately, no lives were lost in the Hummingbird Creek debris torrent, which destroyed five homes, although one nearby resident died of a heart attack.  A subsequent published report into the 1997 slide  concluded that it “originated as a debris avalanche below a forest road culvert.  Drainage area above the culvert had been artificially tripled.  It appears that concentrated runoff from the road culvert was a major contributing factor in initiating the debris avalanche.”  The authors concluded, “this study reemphasizes the need to carefully examine management of watersheds with high downstream consequences”.

The residents who lost their homes were unable to obtain adequate remedial action from the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) and commenced civil litigation against the province and the forest company involved in the road construction and clearcut logging.  The cases were settled before trial.

While it is too early to come to any conclusions about the cause of this terrible event, it is imperative that all potentially hazardous sites be monitored carefully and that all full impartial investigation be conducted into this tragedy.