The viewing area that was closed on Friday (Jan.18) at the Sooke Potholes Regional Park may be closed permanently, according to the CRD Senior Manager of Parks, Jeff Leahy.
“We have an engineer’s report that says that the continued failure of the slope is likely to occur and that the timing of those failures can’t be predicted,” said Leahy.
“That presents a very real hazard to the public and we’ll be keeping the viewing area closed and the warning signs in place.”
The rockslide closed the viewing area around the old lodge site in the park after a dangerous slide occurred in the area.
Leahy said that the rock slides are a function of steep slopes combined with rocks along or above that slope. Unlike mudslides, which are caused when large amounts of rain can cause soil instability, he explained that rock slides have a very different dynamic.
“What happens is that moisture gets into cracks in the rocks and through freeze/thaw action that rock is made unstable,” he said.
“It’s sort of a hidden hazard that really can’t be seen just looking up the slope. That’s why we’ve had an engineer take a close look at the situation.”
As a result of that report, Leahy said that it’s unlikely that this particular viewing area will be reopened in the foreseeable future, but stressed that other viewing areas in the park, north of the closed platform, will remain open.
“It’s a beautiful park and a wonderful place to visit, but the public is urged to stay away from the closed area and, in general, be aware to stay away from the base of steep slopes in the park. These are natural hazards and very hard to mitigate, so we just urge people to be cautious in the way they use the park.”