New road being built in case of a 'catastrophic' slide in Kelowna | Kelowna News | iNFOnews

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New road being built in case of a 'catastrophic' slide in Kelowna

Tension cracks behind a Black Mountain Irrigation District pumphouse is causing the city to build a new road in Kirschner Mountain.
Image Credit: From City of Kelowna Agenda
February 28, 2019 - 6:00 PM

KELOWNA - Construction of an emergency exit road over Kirschner Mountain could begin as early as tomorrow, March 1, in case the hill gives way.

“If we have a catastrophic slide there that goes as far as Loseth Road, it could force us to close that section of road,” James Kay, Development Engineering Manager for the City of Kelowna told “There are 80 or 90 homes above that section of road that have no other way off the mountain. So, we’re punching a road, basically the extension of Loseth, up over the mountain and down around to Gallagher Road on the back side."

Earlier this week, council agreed to go onto two properties in the Black Mountain hillside neighbourhood to try to prevent a slide that could also take out at least one home along with the road, water and other service lines.

The risk of a slide is so severe that work to prevent it is likely to start next week, Kay said, once design work is done.

Unless two affected property owners change their minds, the city will do the work and bill them on their taxes. But, the city is in frequent contact with the owners to determine the best way to do the work.

One property, at 2045 Loseth Rd. is owned by Stephen Smith and Sara Potton, who told council they bought it in 2017 and can’t afford to pay for the work, which could cost them in the neighbourhood of $300,000.

The other property is about 6.6 acres of vacant land. That property owner sent a letter to council asking the city to do the work, Kay said.

The total cost could be more than $1 million.

The unstable slope was built up on at least three different occasions over the last 10 years, Kay said.

“It’s just been a continuously unpermitted fill site,” he said. “We have a geotech report that says it’s suitable material and compacted properly but the bore holes that we did suggest that there’s uncontrolled and unconsolidated fill in there. That’s geotechnical speak for ‘it looks like a lot of loose material has been thrown on the hillside’.”

That “unpermitted” nature of the dumping may be a factor in determining who is going to pay for all this work.

The City only has the power to add the costs of work to prevent the slide to the property taxes of the two property owners. They will likely argue it’s the developer’s fault but that may have to be determined in the courts.

As for the cost of the emergency road?

“That’s something council will ultimately decide,” Kay said. “The intent, at the moment, is this is an emergency. We’ll get in there and get it done and determine the cost recovery afterwards.”

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