8 roommates stuck on wrong side of Burnaby landslide

A group of Burnaby roommates found themselves on the wrong side of a landslide Thursday morning.

SFU student Steven Robertson and some of his seven roommates were on their way to work and school when they came upon a jumble of concrete, mud and rocks blocking the only road access to their house.

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A retaining wall on the slope above had collapsed, sending a wave of debris onto a public lane – the only access by car to 7235 Bayview Dr., where the roommates live.

One of them, Eric Bhujbal, said it took them a while to figure out where the mess had come from.

“We genuinely had no idea,” he said. “We thought someone came and messed up the road overnight maybe.”

City crews have begun cleaning up a collapsed retaining wall that sent concrete slabs, mud and rocks onto a lane between Barnet Road and Braeside Drive early this week. - Cornelia Naylor

Robertson said he thought maybe an earthquake had triggered it.

The roommates reported the slide, and their cars have been trapped behind it ever since.

It’s been a major headache for Robertson who works at Grouse Mountain and now spends about one-and-a-half to two hours on public transit to get there.

“Yeah, it sucks. I’ve gotta take three buses,” he said.

Like all of the roommates, he now has to hoof it through another private property next to their house to get to a bus stop.

City crews have begun hauling away the debris, but there’s no word on when the lane will be passable.

Brian Carter, manager of public works operations, said it depends on advice from geotechnical staff.

He said crews also have to remove a section of the retaining wall that’s still standing.

City officials look down from 7353 Braeside D., where a retaining wall collapsed Thursday. - Cornelia Naylor

“It’s not just as simple as going up and taking it down with an excavator,” he said. “You’ve got to do it safely. There’s a load behind it of dirt and other things and there’s another wall there so we want to make sure we have engineers involved and we do it safely.”

A city officials at the site estimated 50 dump-truck loads of debris had cascaded down the hill.

“I don’t remember the last time I responded to a failed retaining wall like that,” Carter said.

He said the city will “absolutely” be investigating the collapse.

“We’ll have our engineering department in concert probably with our legal department, our building department,” he said. “There’ll be several people that’ll start investigating – maybe that property and the surrounding properties and how it got to the state it was in.”

As of Friday afternoon, houses on Barnet Road, below the slide were still without power.

A number of homes were evacuated.

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