A remedy to repair an unstable Kirschner Mountain subdivision slope, which will cost two property owners up to $1.2 million, must be completed before the snow melts this spring, says the City of Kelowna’s development engineering manager.
James Kay said the city has been in contact with the two properties owners at 2045 Loseth Rd. and 2001 Kloppenberg Crt. about the situation and both have retained lawyers to consider their legal options.
“The first key from the city’s perspective is for the people facing this experience to have empathy and understanding for these people. (They) did not cause this and are being held responsible for something they didn’t do,” said Kay.
“People are nervous and scared when confronted with something like this and look to see who can help fix it. We just want to help where we can and be part of finding a solution.
“But we also have to look at the need to protect other properties, road access and public infrastructure.”
Kay said a geotechnical study commissioned by the city determined the probability of a landslide occurring is very high this spring, as measuring tools are in place now to record any movement in the slope this winter, which so far hasn’t occurred.
City council will receive a staff report based on that study at its Monday meeting outlining a call for immediate action.
READ MORE: Flooding plagues Black Mountain subdivision
The report says if the owners refuse, or can’t afford the costs, city staff will seek a budget amendment to undertake the work required with a plan put in place by March 31. The expense incurred will be passed on to the property owners.
“The remediation of this instability has been estimated at between $750,000 and $1.2 million. The low range of this estimate assumes simple extension/buttressing of the bottom of the slope which would require additional land and significant impact to the adjacent landowners,” stated the report, submitted by Lance Kayfish, city director, community safety.
“There will be an opportunity for the owner’s and impacted parties to recover their losses through civil litigation or other means but those processes will take time and can be conducted after existing circumstances is made safe.”
Kay said lives and properties at the bottom of the slope are at risk if there is a landslide, with the risk of a slide increased by spring runoff and a high groundwater table.
He said a Black Mountain Irrigation District pump station at the top of the slope is also at risk, as are the the water, gas and electric services connected to the pump station.
It is around the pump station where cracks in the slope were first noticed by city work crews last spring.
As well, any degradation of Loseth Road caused by a landslide will impact approximately 90 homeowners currently living above the slope, which is located in the Black Mountain area on the south side of the Loseth-Highway 33 intersection.
The area suffered flooding issues as recently as last spring, when several homes saw their basements fill with water in the Mountainview subdivision.
A multi-tiered retaining wall along Samurai Court on the north side of Highway 33 collapsed last year and has still not been repaired.
Kay said the immediacy of potential public danger is why the Samurai Court situation has not yet faced a similar demand that the wall be repaired.
“I met recently with all the Samurai Court stakeholders and neighbours for two hours and from that process we generally agreed that something has to be done to repair the wall, but the homeowners directly impacted don’t have the tools to complete that process,” Kay said.
“So the city has taken the first step to have a geotechnical report done on the drainage and slope stability and to provide some clues on what the remedy options would be for that situation. I expect that report to come back to us in a matter of weeks.”
He added a high groundwater table has caused flooding issues with homeowners living at the bottom of slopes across the city in the past two years, something he said the city has been advised is not likely to change for at least the next decade.
“There is something different in the mix now with the high groundwater table, but at the same time we are looking at our processes for retaining walls and geotechnical surveys to make sure we are reacting to that as well,” he said.
“And we ask residents to do what they can to protect their homes by making sure the the drainage system around their properties is intact.”