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Landslide disputed

Philippe Morin
Northern News Services

Tsiigehtchic (Nov 06/06) - The Department of Municipal and community affairs and Tsiigetchic's chief are downplaying warnings that a portion of the community is teetering on a potential landslide.

NNSL Photo/graphic

On Oct. 18, James Cardinal, community coordinator, pointed at this crack in the ground, which was one of many signs of damage. He fears a landslide, but Chief Peter Ross and MACA say it's not serious. - Philippe Morin/NNSL photo

Chief Peter Ross told News/North he believes comments made in a story two weeks ago were embellished.

On Oct. 18, James Cardinal, the community coordinator, took News/North on a tour of the hamlet, saying he feared the ground would soon give way.

He pointed at items like a fallen tree and cracks in the ground, saying they might be precursors of a landslide.

Several people around the community also said they were worried about cracks in the ground, as well as changing angles in the cliffside near the Roman Catholic Church.

At the time, Ross was in Fort Good Hope for a special assembly of the Dene first nation and could not be reached for comment.

However, he has since said he doesn't think there's danger of a landslide, and thinks Cardinal's statements were exaggerated.

"It's nothing to get excited about," he said on Oct. 27.

"There has been some natural erosion, sure, but I've had to explain to people calling from everywhere else that it's not that serious."

Ross said there would be a discussion in council about how to deal with the erosion.

However, he said he doesn't believe a landslide is imminent.

He added the hamlet never officially asked anyone to leave their homes.

"I don't know why that was said, I haven't asked him," Ross said of Cardinal's comments to that effect last week.

John Picek, who is the regional superintendent of the NWT's Municipal and Community Affairs, visited Tsiigehtchic between Oct. 23 to 27.

By that time, the cliffside was covered in snow, but he said there was no visible danger.

"We agreed to go take a look, but there's no urgency from what we've seen," he said.

As a result, he said, the department will not offer any assistance to the hamlet.

"There's always been a steep slope, and there has been some natural slumping, but nothing new has developed to make this an emergency," he said.

On Oct. 30, James Cardinal said he would not discuss the matter further with News/North until he had met with Ross and discussed it in private

And while he is the community coordinator for Tsiigehtchic, he clarified that he never officially asked people to move.

"I never said it was official policy," he said, saying it was merely a personal suggestion he'd made.

On Oct. 23, he told News/North that residents had been asked to leave.

Perhaps due to cold temperatures - and thus freezing in underground streams, which Cardinal suspects are responsible for the visible changes - there have been no recent cases of cracks or land shifting in Tsiigehtchic.

"What's going to happen next? I don't know," he said.