The community of Oasis has asked the regional district to build a case on developing a drainage service, which could be a long-term fix for residents who fear they may be the next to be evacuated.
Trevor and Shari Young were told to leave their property last week, after an out-of-pocket geotechnical assessment of their Hanna Drive home recommended their departure.
The family is currently living in a local bed and breakfast and deciding what to do next since their house insurance doesn’t cover ground water.
“They are in dire straits,” shared Area B director Linda Worley.
The meeting called on drainage this Tuesday was not directly for the Youngs, though the majority of people who turned up were there to support their neighbour.
About 40 people attended the informative gathering after the 72 residential properties in Oasis received notice in the mail.
“The whole idea of the meeting was to bring all of these people together so that folks could ask questions and get the real answers, rather than the rumour monger,” explained Worley. “I wanted everybody on the same page as whose roles of responsibilities covered what.”
MLA Katrine Conroy, senior Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) staff, and members of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) joined Worley in addressing concerns about the sloughing shoulder along Hillcrest Drive, saturated properties on and around Hanna Drive and a culvert on Oasis Crescent.
Residents in attendance signed a request to have the RDKB investigate the community’s desire for a drainage service, which would not be implemented or even fully examined until a referendum resulted in the majority of electors voting for the service.
“Only two regional districts in the province offer this service because it’s highly expensive and usually only done on new subdivisions,” said Worley.
But finding water paths and mitigating damp properties with proper infrastructure would resolve the matter.
The regional district will create a mock-up service and put it to the community eventually after a case is built. And, if favoured, a hydrologist would be hired to do an in-depth study at a cost that is still to be determined.
A full report could help build a case if any ifs and buts raised result in some findings.
“Something somewhere diverted water in the area that normally would take a different path and now it seems to be affecting homes, not just (the Youngs’) but there are sinkholes along Hanna Drive that were never there before that are appearing through water building under the surface,” explained Worley. “If a hydrologist report could prove that someone diverted water somewhere along the way or something was altered through services, if that can be proven, there may be a chance of some support if work has to be done by those government entities to correct something they did.”
Worley is not the only one walking away from the meeting with an onslaught of follow-up work. Nearly each official in attendance committed to working on behalf of Oasis residents and their dampened properties.
She said, the ministry agreed to take a thorough look at all of its infrastructure on its right of way and check on maintenance scheduled for ditches and culverts in the area.
An improvement to Hillcrest Drive is also on tap, according to news shared at the meeting this week. A portion of the road sloughing will be dug up and reinforced with matting to add further strength before it’s repaved.
Conroy, among others in attendance, is searching for any additional assistance for the Young family and their unfortunate predicament.
The Young family recently took 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 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 a full geotechnical assessment immediately.
The full report just completed prompted the couple and their children to move out of their home and into temporary housing. The Youngs could not be reached for comment by press time Thursday.
The emotional meeting did put residents face to face with officials but still highlighted that the onus falls onto private property owners.
“I would describe it as an ongoing problem,” said Worley. “Since I’ve been the director for the last six and half years, I’ve addressed it every year on the hill (Hillcrest). The last two years, I’ve had complaints and been aware of problems on Hanna Drive.”