Meeting scheduled for water concerns in Oasis

"“This is an information meeting that will hopefully bring some answers or, at least, clear the air on some of the drainage issues."

Linda Worley may not have any authority over roads in the community of Oasis, but the Area B director is not letting that stop her fight.

The sloughing shoulder along Hillcrest Drive, saturated properties on and around Hanna Drive and a culvert on Oasis Crescent will be the focus of an upcoming community meeting. Oasis residents can expect a mailed invitation to the informative gathering scheduled for 6:30 p.m. March 29 at the community hall.

“This is an information meeting that will hopefully bring some answers or, at least, clear the air on some of the drainage issues that have been spoken about that possibly weren’t explained first-hand,” she said.

Hillcrest Drive has been an uphill battle for Worley, who has tried for years to get the attention of the province and her effort to alert the ministry has resulted in repairs that have only provided a temporary fix.

While community members acknowledge Oasis is naturally damp, they point to a crumbling road (Hillcrest) and a culvert that they feel is not directing the flow of water efficiently and further pitting private properties with sinkholes.

“To us, it’s all being put on a dollar figure, and it seems like we’re getting shafted,” said long-time resident Jodie Lemieux.

“Nobody is stepping up and saying, ‘OK, this is our area of expertise,’ that’s how we’re feeling.”

The lines of responsibility criss-cross from the regional district, which does not have authority over roads, back to the ministry, which doesn’t deal with private property. John MacLean, chief administrative officer for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), reiterates the regional district can only help facilitate the conversation at this time.

“Our concern, of course, was initially the potential or the threat of some kind of imminent emergency, which apparently is not the case,” he said, referring to a site assessment done at a residential property on Hanna Drive.

“We don’t have a direct role in how to manage the problem now,” he added. “We don’t control roads, and roads are such a huge role in drainage, so this is not something that is traditionally something that regional districts get involved in too much.”

There would have to be some lengthy discussion on what part the regional district would play in actually doing operational or technical work in terms of mitigating the issue, he adds, and that could mean further taxation.

Worley continues to advocate for the community. She has sent out meeting invitations to MLA Katrine Conroy, senior RDKB staff, and members of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI).

Meanwhile, Hanna Drive’s Trevor and Shari Young are taking steps suggested by a geomorphologist who assessed their property after the couple’s complaints of eroding soil and shifting retaining walls and willow tree reached the Emergency Operations Centre in Trail.

The Young’s house was deemed safe to live in for now, but there was a risk noted of more damage over time, and it was suggested the couple follow up with an out-of-pocket geotechnical assessment.

During the site visit, expert Sarah Crookshanks also observed a blocked culvert that passes under Hanna Drive at Oasis Crescent. She noted water was backing up in the culvert and some of it was flowing south along Hanna. MOTI confirmed that the portion of the culvert that is on its right-of-way is clear of any obstructions, but she recommended that the part that extends onto private land also be cleared. Residents decided to take action into their own hands, by digging up the end on private property and restoring flow.

But community members, Lemieux included, would still like to see the culvert extended. She said natural waste collects in a ditch that leads to the culvert, adding that some water is absorbed and dispersed onto residential properties from there.

“I’ve been after them about this bloody culvert for three years and it’s still not fully rectified,” said Lemieux.

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