Determining who is responsible for drainage issues in Oasis is as muddied as the water flowing onto and underneath residential properties, according to a homeowner.
Trevor and Shari Young, who reside on Hanna Drive, question the stability of their home that rests on a bank that overlooks the Oasis wetlands.
The couple has faced drainage issues in the 11 years they’ve lived there but became overly concerned last week when their willow tree in their backyard began to lean slightly. They don’t doubt that their property is saturated but this year has been extra damp and they attribute this partly to a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure culvert on Oasis Crescent.
“It’s sad, it’s heartbreaking,” said Shari. “It’s our home and it’s scary to think that we may have to start all over.”
The homeowners have been informed that electoral areas in regional districts do not handle drainage and that the onus remains on the property owners. They are now stuck with footing a bill for a geotechnical engineer to inspect their property and a tree specialist to take a look at their willow tree.
“I was upset it pretty much left us in the same position that we were in before,” she said. “Nothing really has been resolved.”
Shari and her husband were hopeful that notifying the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) in Trail last week would lead to an extensive assessment of their property. Calls made by EOC coordinator Dan Derby to Emergency Management BC resulted in a geomorphologist inspecting their property mid last week and sharing a report with the homeowners.
“The house was deemed safe to live in for now but there was imminent risk of more damage if an assessment and corrections aren’t done or fixed,” explained Shari.
During the site visit, expert Sarah Crookshanks, also noticed the blocked culvert that passes under Hanna Drive at Oasis Crescent and onto private property.
Residents in Oasis took matters into their own hands last week, digging down into the soil on the private property and exposing an eroded pipe that had come loose. The team of neighbours reattached it and saw that flow was somewhat restored. Shari then sent out emails to public officials and received word back from Greg Kinnear, a road area manager for the ministry, informing her that a contractor will likely attend the scene to flush out the system if necessary.
Shari has been tasked with navigating between the EOC, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (Area B) and the ministry to find answers to drainage, which doesn’t appear to be an isolated situation in Oasis.
“Ultimately it’s their issue,” said Derby, sharing his sympathies for those struggling to get answers and a resolution. “There is a groundwater issue in that area and some are suggesting that there needs to be a larger drainage plan developed for that area but that’s where it becomes very complicated and well outside emergency management because that’s more of a community planning type issue in regards to, is that a provincial initiative or regional district initiative … that’s not for me to comment on.”
The Youngs and neighbours plan on gathering at an Oasis recreation meeting tonight at the community hall at 6:30 p.m. to voice their shared concern on the matter. Though the meeting is not reserved for issues like this, residents feel that it needs to be addressed immediately.
“At this point, we’re just trying to sit tight,” added Shari. “We’re not ready to give up yet but we’re going to seek some legal advice.
“I’m not really sure what is to come of Oasis but I don’t think it’s going to be good in the next five years,” she added.
Water flows off the mountainside behind Oasis down into a ditch on Oasis Crescent. From the ditch it travels into a culvert and into a catch basin that carries the water underneath Hanna and onto an Oasis recreation property. Neighbours noticed that water appeared to absorb into the ditch and from there travel onto residential properties nearby. Water was also pooling at the storm drain, which further gave insight to a potential clog.
The ministry inspected its infrastructure and confirmed it’s operating appropriately, the Times was told last week.
“The ministry is aware of residents’ concerns regarding the flow of water near Oasis Crescent and groundwater movement in the area and concerns regarding sinkholes,” confirmed Sonia Lowe, a media relations representative.
Lowe said the ministry inspected the culvert and the flow of the water and found that there were no obstructions. Further follow up Monday confirmed that there was no update.
“This is the time of year when spring freshet occurs in the low to mid elevations across the Kootenays causing higher than normal runoff which can last for a number of weeks,” she explained. “Landowners have to be aware that higher than normal groundwater tables and saturated soils can cause many issues on private properties.”
Area B director Linda Worley said she has done her work by contacting the EOC, adding that the regional district has “no authority over provincially governed matters of highways, overland runoff, dikes, ditches, culverts, dams, etcetera.”