Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

SHARING THE LATEST – Mayor Laura Cabott (right) up- dates the city’s handling of the Apr. 30 mudslide fallout on Thursday afternoon. At left is Tracy Allen, the city’s director of operations.

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

A NO-GO ZONE – The trail running along the clay cliffs on the south side of the city, seen Wednesday afternoon, has been blocked off starting at Hanson Street.

Image title

Photo by Vince Fedoroff

A WET AVENUE – The trail running along the clay cliffs has been closed starting at Hanson Street. This is the scene at the other end, near Hoge Street, where last year’s slide has become active and is draining onto Sixth Avenue.

Key artery to remain closed into June

It will likely be a few more weeks before Robert Service Way is open to traffic again, says Mayor Laura Cabott.

By Chuck Tobin on May 20, 2022

It will likely be a few more weeks before Robert Service Way is open to traffic again, says Mayor Laura Cabott.

The mayor and senior city officials hosted a media briefing Thursday afternoon at Fifth Avenue and Rogers Street.

The team of city and consulting engineers is saying there is still significant movement going on along the escarpment, said the mayor.

Tension cracks on the face of the escarpment are growing, she added.

Cabott said the safety of personnel is the highest priority, and the city won’t send in crews to clear the roadway until it knows it’s safe to do so.

Ongoing monitoring of the Apr. 30 mudslide has measured movement of 60 and 135 millimetres of movement, which is significant, she said.

New tension cracks are being found where the mudslide came down.

Because of the uncertainty around the stability of the escarpment, the city has closed the area at the bottom of the clay cliffs between Taylor and Hanson streets.

Fencing has been put up all along the closed area with signs indicating the area is dangerous, and for people to stay out.

Next to the area where the press conference was held, for instance, is a wet mudflow and water coming off the escarpment.

Cabott said the fencing has been placed far enough away from the bottom of the escarpment that if there is another mudslide, it wouldn’t reach the fenced area.

The Black Street stairs remain open but the trail to the left of the stairs going up has been fenced off, she said.

Three parks are included in the fenced off area.

The experts, she said, say movement on the escarpment is expected to continue.

The mayor said it’s likely the movement will continue well into June, until the spring melt is over and conditions start to dry out.

The airport trail running along the top of the escarpment has also been closed from Black Street south until further notice.

The city had already budgeted money to do an assessment this year of the entire escarpment prior to the mudslide.

When the slide came down, it took out trees, the guard rail and a light standard before burying the Millennium Trail and flowing onto the Yukon River ice.

There were no injuries, although one eyewitness said it just missed two people who were walking on the trail.

Tracy Allen, the city’s director of operations, said crews expect to be in clearing the road next Wednesday or Thursday.

The cleanup probably won’t take much more than a day, and the dirt will be hauled to the landfill, she explained.

Allen said it will take another seven to 10 days after the road is cleared to install corrugated steel sheeting as a barrier at the bottom of the slide.

When it’s safe to allow traffic again on Robert Service Way, there’s a possibility it will be only open to single-lane traffic guided by pilot vehicles, she said.

The structural integrity of the roadbed covered by the mudslide appears to be fine.

The city, Allen said, will be working closely with the Yukon government to ensure all the information gathered is shared and updated.

The newest closures at the base of the escarpment were announced at noon Wednesday.

“Along with the new tension cracks, surveying of the escarpment has continued to show signs of significant movement, including ground water flowing down the face of the escarpment, and mud flows occurring in the afternoons,” the city said in a brief statement.

“These signs indicate a potential for additional slides to occur.”

Residences are not at risk, the city indicated.

“The city is actively monitoring the entire escarpment, and the public is instructed to continue avoiding the area,” the statement said.

“We thank the public for their patience and co-operation during this time.”

Whitehorse Transit has begun offering free bus service until Canada Day in an attempt to reduce rush hour traffic congestion.

See editorial.

Comments (21)

Up 9 Down 4

Dallas on May 25, 2022 at 8:57 pm

This place WAS a nice place to live but not anymore, the liberals have screwed the country and this territory and the city, time to sell out, mossberry is open to offers.

Up 14 Down 5

Mitch Holder on May 25, 2022 at 4:06 pm

@ Wow - Yup It’s Your City - Glad to read I am not alone in being fundamentally done with this garbage this city passes as governance or municipal operations. Yeah, they work from home alright, and it shows...

Up 12 Down 4

Erwin Glock on May 25, 2022 at 3:33 pm

There are rumors swirling around town that the City is planning to confiscate
all blow dryers, in order to tend to the clay cliffs. A specialist from down south
will in addition look into the option of using extra strong hairspray. .....yay

Up 3 Down 9

Mitch Holder on May 25, 2022 at 9:51 am

@ Nell - Let's replace our city planner with Nell. All in favour? That is an excellent and viable proposition.

Up 22 Down 9

Wow - Yup It’s Your City on May 25, 2022 at 7:15 am

Let’s paint more paint intersections…..
City Council is an assortment of Do Gooders and Tree Huggers.

Does “The Slide” not illustrate a general incompetence to manage human made or natural disasters?

We have seen a pedophile inflect more harm on our children. We have seen the affects of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum. We have watched with horror overdose after overdose of our young people. We have watched the effects of flooding and slides.

So how is this City Council doing so far? Is it time for another intersection to be painted or perhaps more inclusive policy making?

Up 14 Down 9

Nell Fenwick on May 24, 2022 at 2:19 pm

An approach that worked elsewhere: 1. Dig wells and pump away accumulated ground water near the bluff into city storm drains. 2. Plant indigenous vegetation on the bluff face to help hold it together. 3. Build a wall of boulders below to break oncoming slides.

Up 26 Down 10

Josey Wales on May 24, 2022 at 11:23 am

Yup...absolutely...with zero doubt...
Analysis Paralysis.

If only COW removed the dirt off the road, as they wash the dirt off their hands...as civic wizards do.
I cannot believe any folks hold faith in wizardry our civic lords perform.
Between our civic elections, the Territory and whatever ya wanna call the rest...strongly suggest far too many stupid people actually make it to the ballot box!

Up 29 Down 11

Mitch Holder on May 24, 2022 at 10:26 am

“We thank the public for their patience and co-operation during this time.”

What, if anything, is co-operative about this? We demand basics to be taken care of for the taxation we pay, not social justice and government bloating bureaucracy.

Up 20 Down 2

Groucho d'North on May 23, 2022 at 4:09 pm

There is no joy in Mudville...

Up 59 Down 9

Sheepchaser on May 23, 2022 at 10:50 am

So they are going to wait for it to dry out before moving the material. That’s a great idea *if* there wasn’t a major roadway blocked and it did not reduce the city’s emergency thoroughfares to one. How many ambulances will take an extra ten minutes to hospital? Or fire trucks delayed heading to a fully involved house fire? How many more punches will an abuser get in before the police arrive? How many car accidents will result from the congestion on Two Mile Hill?

The city is trying to shed liability on a small scale while picking it up on a large scale. Risk can be mitigated, but almost never eliminated. A serious leader should be able to make a decision under those circumstances.

Bring in a mining team that is used to dealing with the clay. Have your highly paid heroes on standby. Do the best you can with what you’ve got, but get on with it before the delay itself becomes negligent.

Up 37 Down 7

Study Buddy on May 22, 2022 at 11:13 pm

To Barry on May 22, 2022 at 12:30 pm:

I have pleasure in Submitting to you this report fram the Division of Building Research of the National Research Council on the Whitehorse escarpment problem, as requested by the Advisory Committee on Northern Development at its meeting on 12 November 1956.

It has been a pleasure to keep you advised of the progress of our studies and to have had the opportunity of bringing before the Advisory Committee our conclusions and recommendations at its meeting of 12 January 1959.

If the Advisory Committee on Northern Development should decide that the escarpment should be rehabilitated, then the authors would recommend the following general procedures:

Although it would be desirable to have no buildings anywhere near the crest of the escarpment, it is realized that this may now be impracticable but it is, however, essential in the view of the authors that all buildings to the east of the road which runs near the crest of the escarpment should be completely removed or moved to 'other locations.

Correspondingly, arrangements must be made to seal off effectively all connections to water mains and the sewers which now exist between this road and the edge of the escarpment.

Arrangements must be made to ensure that under no circumstances whatsoever is water to be used in any quantity
(such as for the washing of vehicles) anywhere in the area between the east runway and the crest of the escarpment.

Arrangements should be made for the design and execution of a complete but relatively simple drainage plan to trap all surface water falling on the roofs of buildings, road-ways, and the runways adjacent to the escarpment, and using the natural grades to lead this as surface drainage away from the crest of the escarpment.

A strong protective fence should then be erected along the crest of the escarpment for the full length of the affected area and at a suitable distance back from the edge as part of the measures which must be taken to ensure that there is no human interference whatsoever with the escarpment slope once rehabilitation work commences.

With the fence in position and the buildings moved, the recommendations of the Forestry Branch of the Department of Northern Affairs and National Resources for the vegetal rehabilitation of the entire escarpment slope should be implemented as quickly as possible.

Finally, when the rehabilitation work is complete, measures must be taken to ensure the proper maintenance of the rehabilitated slope, with provision for complete control over any interference with drainage arrangements, water, or sewage pipes, etc., anywhere near the crest of the affected part of the escarpment.

These people are messing with you. Study the problem some more?!?! The slide in 1953 wiped out buildings and roads then. They knew what needed to be done. However, a Liberal government was elected in 1953… We should check to see if they did anything back then…

My point is, this supposed Current Climate Change Catastrophe Cudgel, is is being wielded for purely narcissistic pleasures… Look at me, look at me…

This issue has been an issue for over 70 years. Notwithstanding our current death spiral into the Carnage of a Climate Change Crisis the 50s slide was much worse. Granted, there is room for other interpretations but it seems most likely that a comparison of the magnitude of these two events suggest that things are getting better, not worse.

The moral of the story is: don’t build a city below a clay mountain, especially if it is sparsely vegetated, and has runoff. But hey, the world was a different place in the 1950s. They just came out of the World War. They had no prepackaged, ready made, existential threat in the frame of a Climate Change crisis narrative… To stir the masses, to make them feel. The world was too numb from the horrors of the 2nd World War.

But anyway, 70 years later, here we are again… What to do, what to do? “When in doubt study it out!” Perhaps the City should sue the Territorial, and Federal governments?

Up 18 Down 5

Barry on May 22, 2022 at 12:30 pm

@ common sense

I would add a French Drain along the berm to carry water away to a safer spill point

Up 19 Down 6

comen sense on May 21, 2022 at 11:59 pm

Now we think everyone is a walking lawsuit we all have our hands tied in doing anything. With all the engineers and experts we have now, I don't want to sound like a know it all but why not put a berm on the airport side of the clay cliff on a grade parallel to the clay cliff back 20 ft so as to reduce the water reaching the edge of the cliff to keep it dryer and more stable.

Up 12 Down 6

Wilf Carter on May 21, 2022 at 6:17 pm

Al - but ten years ago the info came from two engineers in this field not just talk by politicians .

Up 26 Down 6

DWD on May 21, 2022 at 2:05 pm

I have never seen anything like it in all my life.

Up 25 Down 4

Nathan Living on May 21, 2022 at 1:34 pm

The escarpment has always been a safety concern, particularly in the spring when water flows down the face of the slope.
Many people are aware of the danger and they are vigilant particularly in the spring.

The City really has to deal with the potential for a much larger slide. Many things can be done to lower the risk.
Public safety should be taken seriously as should basic things like snow clearing and responsible city spending.

Up 35 Down 5

Al on May 21, 2022 at 1:22 pm

@ Wilf

Sorry my friend, I remember the escarpment was talked about in the 70's, and I bet even earlier! Every succeeding council along with YTG chose to ignore the problem. The same goes for the bridge into Riverdale. That bridge goes down - need I say more....

Up 30 Down 9

Wilf Carter on May 21, 2022 at 8:30 am

This issue has been known about for 10 years with nothing done about it by the last mayor.

Up 43 Down 12

Matthew on May 21, 2022 at 7:26 am

Pathetic, have sign, "use at own risk". I bet 99% of drivers will use it.. besides, where's WCB, Laura should get a ticket for not wearing a hard hat on jobsite..

Up 79 Down 9

Jack on May 20, 2022 at 9:56 pm

Why not axe the diversity training, colourful crosswalks, United Way and new city halls and concentrate on maintaining the city's infrastructure. Imagine that!

Up 37 Down 7

Vern Schlimbesser on May 20, 2022 at 7:57 pm

YTG has started construction on the runway at the top of this escarpment. They are re-building the runway, then the plan is to build new maintenance shops and facilities there too.
Check it out on google maps, then decide if you think this is a good idea. As usual the left hand (C.O.W.) doesn't know what the right hand (YTG) is doing.

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.