3 homes ordered to evacuate after landslides, no other buildings at risk, Whitehorse mayor says

The city of Whitehorse has issued evacuation orders for three homes it considers at risk after two more landslides over the weekend.

Mayor Laura Cabott said during a Monday afternoon press conference at City Hall that no other downtown buildings or homes are currently at risk.

She said two of the houses currently under evacuation orders were vacant and she believes residents of the third house complied with the order and left.

Each landslide – one occurred Friday night and the other Saturday around 10:40 a.m. – saw an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 cubic meters of debris fall from the escarpment, according to Tracy Allen, director of operations for the city.

Saturday morning’s landslides occurred above Cliffside Park near Jeckell Street in the city’s downtown area. The park has been cordoned off since May 2021, when a previous landslide occurred.

The landslide saw debris fall from the escarpment, which runs along the entire west side of downtown, into the park, overflowing onto 6th Avenue near a house.

WATCH | Images from the Yukon Geological Survey show a landslide sending debris into Cliffside Park and onto 6th Avenue:

“It’s the groundwater that’s going into the ground and coming out of the escarpment that’s causing the landslides,” Cabott said.

She added that the city would remove the equipment from the park — although it’s already closed, the mayor said some residents were using it — and move it. Cabott suggested people go to Jim Light Park on 3rd Avenue instead.

The latest landslides come after the city began cleaning up another one that happened late last month.

This landslide was the result of approximately 3,000 to 4,000 cubic meters of sand, silt, and clay falling from the escarpment on Robert Service Way and the Millennium Trail, and into the Yukon River.

The city said the current slide is not caused by the recent construction of a sheet pile wall along Robert Service Way. The wall is being built to mitigate damage from any future landslides in the area and allow authorities to reopen the main downtown thoroughfare, which has been closed for weeks.

The trail near Wood Street in downtown Whitehorse after a landslide occurred on May 28, 2022. (Chris Windeyer/CBC)

Staff working on the sheet pile wall were diverted on Saturday to help with the new landslides. Cabott said crews are expected to resume construction of the wall along Robert Service Way on Tuesday.

Allen said it would take another seven or eight days to build the wall.

“We hope that in the next two weeks, in the absence of further closures, we can at least open it under controlled traffic,” Allen said.

The other landslide last weekend occurred between Wood and Jarvis streets. Cabott said the city has cordoned off other areas near the escarpment following the weekend landslides.

Keep watching the escarpment

Allen said city engineers and consultants continue to monitor the entire escarpment daily using drones and visual inspections. They expect to see more landslides over the next week or two as groundwater continues to seep out of the escarpment.

The city provided emergency preparedness information to residents of about 40 or 50 homes after the landslides this weekend, just in case residents were trapped in their homes and unable to leave. for a certain time.

Information kits include advice on having enough supplies to last 72 hours as well as signs residents can put up in their windows saying HELP or OK.

Anyone witnessing a landslide is asked to report it to the City at 867-667-2111.

Cabott also urged residents to sign up for the Whitehorse Alert app.

She said the notification system alerts users to any emergency, including flood or fire, in the city.

“[It’s] a really important step you can take to keep yourself informed and safe,” she said.

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