Sechelt sinkholes leave owners with potentially worthless homes
At least one family has been forced from their home permanently and possibly a dozen others are left with potentially worthless properties as sinkholes spread through a Sechelt subdivision.
Ross and Erin Storey moved to the Sunshine Coast to raise their three children, but their $500,000 home in the Seawatch neighbourhood was condemned in 2015 after the ground beneath their home gave way.
Since then several new sinkholes have opened beneath their street and on a nearby lot just last month, giving the impression of a mortar attack.
Attractive executive homes are set into a steep hillside, all with a stunning view of the inlet, but the road has been blocked with concrete barriers and spray-painted indicating areas of weakness.
“We moved here to live in our dream home and now we can’t even go inside,” Ross said. “We are still paying a $450,000 mortgage and property taxes.”
They can’t walk away from the house and leave it to the bank without being stripped of their business assets. “We have to fight,” Ross said. After mediation failed, the Storeys filed suit against the District of Sechelt, the developer Concordia Seawatch, 14 engineering firms, home insurer Travelers Guarantee and five real-estate agents, among others.
Greg and Gerry Latham’s $1-million home is just a few metres from a sinkhole that opened up in 2012, swallowing a car.
“We had an independent appraisal done. But due to the special circumstances, they said our house is now worth zero,” Greg said.
The Lathams dropped out of the lawsuit after it became clear they could not hope to recover their loss, because their house is so far undamaged.
The neighbours are divided over whether the subdivision can be salvaged.
Ross Storey does not believe the development can be repaired, which is why he is seeking compensation for the loss of his home.
“There are issues no one can identify, no one knows how to fix and no one knows what it will cost or if it will work,” said Storey. “That means there is no fix.”
Mayor Bruce Milne said the district was not prepared to “put a Band-Aid” on individual problems when stability issues permeate the entire site.
The District of Sechelt issued a detailed history of the development, saying that it would not attempt to fix the area’s groundwater problems because there was no guarantee the $10-million drainage system would work.
Ross and Erin Storey are paying a mortgage on a house they can't set foot in after a sinkhole opened up in their front yard in Sechelt.