Cleanup delayed again as Whitehorse landslide area remains 'dangerous and active'

·2 min read
Debris from Saturday's landslide in Whitehorse can be seen in this aerial shot taken earlier this week. The cleanup of debris will have to wait a few more days as the area remains 'an active and dangerous area,' the mayor says. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Debris from Saturday's landslide in Whitehorse can be seen in this aerial shot taken earlier this week. The cleanup of debris will have to wait a few more days as the area remains 'an active and dangerous area,' the mayor says. (Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada - image credit)

It will be a bit longer before crews can clear Whitehorse's Robert Service Way of debris from last weekend's landslide and re-open the road to traffic.

"It continues to be a dangerous and active area," said Mayor Laura Cabott at a news conference Friday morning, adding the city doesn't know when the clean up work can be done.

"It's put off for at least a few more days," she said.

The landslide, in which about 3,000 to 4,000 cubic metres of sand, silt and clay fell from the escarpment across Robert Service Way and the Millennium Trail and into the Yukon River, happened last Saturday.

Cabott said engineering assessments have shown that since then, there has been further movement of at least four centimetres in the slide area of the escarpment.

"There are some new tension cracks and [there] continues to be a lot of water seepage in the area," she said.

The city closed Robert Service Way from the traffic circle on 4th Avenue to the Robert Service Campground.

Cabott said the city will open Millennium Bridge, which will give pedestrians and cyclists coming from the south the option to cross the Yukon River near the campground to access Riverdale and downtown.

Continuing to monitor

Cabott said the city has monitoring instruments in place in the slope where the landslide took place, as well as all along the escarpment, which bounds the west side of downtown.

She said the city hasn't found any new vulnerable spots along the escarpment but said that if one was found, the city would take immediate action.

Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada
Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada

"We're monitoring it, but we don't see any particular issues at this point," she said.

Tracy Allen, the city's director of operations, said the city is working with a landslide specialist to look at different options to stabilize the escarpment.

"Some of it is going to depend on what happens over the next couple of days in terms of the fresh air and how much water is pouring out through or not pouring out, but how much water is still remaining present," Allen said.

The city's manager of engineering services, Taylor Eshpeter, said that while there may be some more slides, they will likely be shallow ones.

"There's still no reason to believe that there's any risk of deep-seated failures of the entire slope," he said.

River clean up

When the debris is cleaned up on Robert Service Way and the Millennium Trail, the city is also hoping to clean up as much of the debris, especially the larger pieces, from the ice on the Yukon River.

Allen said that among the debris on the river are a light standard and some trees.

"We definitely don't want the larger debris getting into the river and then going down and hitting up against the bridge. And then it's also for the fish habitat as well," said Allen.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting