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No catastrophe expected by Kirschner Mountain developer

View of Kirschner Mountain development lands.
Image Credit: From Kirschner Mountain web page
March 04, 2019 - 5:00 PM

KELOWNA - Concerns by the City of Kelowna over of a 'catastrophic failure' of a hillside on Kirschner Mountain are exaggerated, one of the developers says.

Allan Kirschner says he is well aware of the site, which the City says could severely impact two homeowners, a road and perhaps lands down slope. City engineers are still assessing the threat in the area; so far there appears to be soil movements and cracks in an area the city suspects was created by dumping fill, perhaps without a permit. They are rushing to take corrective action to repair and mitigate potential damage.  

Kirschner and his two brothers have been working for years converting what was a family ranch into a residential subdivision and agrees with the City’s claim that tons of fill was piled on a slope above Loseth Road.

The city has warned of the possibility of a “catastrophic” slide that could wipe out part of Loseth road and hurt or kill people.

“The material dumped there was just a borrow pit (material moved from another part of the development site),” Kirschner told “That ain’t going anywhere soon. I’ve run up the edge of that embankment with my big loader when we built rock walls up here. The loader weighs 30,000 pounds and the bucket of rock weighs about 10,000 pounds. They bounce and, when you get that much weight bouncing, and I’m three feet from the edge, and nothing ever moves.”

The city claims the fill was placed there without permits and isn’t properly compacted.

Kirschner did not directly address questions about the permitting but argued the underlying material is solidly packed. What isn’t so stable is the dirt covering the site so plants can grow, he said.

That’s the material that has cracked, he says and suspects it was due to an unusually high snowpack and runoff last spring.

The City was going to start work as early as today to “punch” Loseth Road through to Gallagher Road in case there is a slide and an emergency exit is needed for 80-90 homes that could be cut off.

Kirschner said that road is mostly built already and could be driven over by cars if the snow was removed. Some crush is needed.

The City has estimated it could cost more than $1 million to prevent a slide. Kirschner disputed that, saying the city just needs to divert groundwater coming out of the slope.

Two property owners are in line to be billed for the work by the City and may have to sue to recover those costs.

“They’ll sue the City,” Kirschner predicted. “It’s the City’s fault.”

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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