Casa Loma drainage improvements put on hold

The second phase of drainage improvements has been put on the back burner after residents showed their frustration with the first phase.

Construction crews work on the first phase of Casa Loma drainage improvements last November. The second phase has been put on hold after considerable concern from residents regarding safety

The second phase of drainage improvements in Casa Loma has been deferred after several residents made their concerns known in West Kelowna council chambers Tuesday.

On April 30, a public meeting was held to provide residents an opportunity to voice any issues regarding phase two of the drainage works.

More than 50 residents showed up to the information session and stated they had several problems with phase one, which was completed last December. Several concerns were related to safety, aesthetics and efficiency.

A few people mentioned pedestrians and vehicles have slipped into the deep ditches and water left in the ditches has become a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Another concern of the community is that a 51-lot development proposed at the end of Benedick Road could exceed pre-development flow.

“I’m not against development,” said Joe Gluska, a Campbell Road resident who spoke to council Tuesday.

“I’m against development that doesn’t allow for proper removal of storm water, and as a result of that, is going to impact all the residents.”

The Casa Loma drainage improvement project was initiated by residents whose homes experienced flooding in the Aug. 10, 2011 storm.

Phase one was completed in December 2012 at a cost of $641,138. It provided storm drainage improvements to Lucinde Road, Alice Court, Campbell Road, Casa Loma Road and the Zdralek Park stairs.

Phase two was originally proposed to be done this year with a budget of just over $700,000. It would provide improvements to Benedick Road, Casa Rio Drive, Zdralek Court, Casa Loma Road and Campbell Road.

Mayor Doug Findlater said he’s not willing to go ahead with such an expensive project unless there is “solid proof of residential support” in the area.

“Council doesn’t go around looking for ways to spend (more than $700,000) to make people’s lives miserable,” said Findlater.

Council moved that consideration of the Casa Loma project be deferred pending receipt of a petition of support from the majority of Casa Loma residents in the affected area by June 30, 2013. Coun. Gord Milsom opposed the motion.

Council went on to unanimously move that staff come back with a report with options to proceed on a district-wide drainage improvement project following best management practices.

“The whole issue of drainage and how to deal with it has become probably the single biggest emergent issue that I don’t think any of us were ever prepared to deal with,” said Ophus.

“It’s turned into something that’s not easily solvable and it’s going to be a very expensive and difficult issue to deal with over the coming years.

“We have major problems in Green Bay; we have major problems in McDougall Creek; we have major problems in Casa Loma.”

Ophus added the problems that have arisen in Casa Loma may be “a blessing in disguise” and a warning to the district before it makes similar decisions in other regions of West Kelowna.

“I think this is a symptom of a larger issue. We need to take a really big step back and think about this in a more holistic way in terms of how to find out what our citizens really want,” said Ophus.

“We have to do some investigation of what the real options are, cost them out and put that to the people.”