After three hard years of work, Joe Gluska is getting what he wanted.
Gluska lives on the corner of Campbell Road and Casa Loma Road in West Kelowna, and since 2013 he has been petitioning city council to remove the ditches built in the neighbourhood in that same year. The area originally had an underground drainage system, but due to an incorrectly built road it wasn’t functioning as well as it should have been.
The city built the ditches in 2013 in an effort to improve the drainage, however once again the ditches proved ineffective. The ditches also proved to have a larger negative impact than what they replaced, as explained by Gluska.
“It’s huge on several fronts,” he said. “Of course the safety issue is most important. Because it goes around two-thirds of my property, I have no access. Not being a younger person, when you’re on the rocks in there it becomes dangerous. With kids riding bikes in the neighbourhood you have to be concerned, because they could fall into the ditch and injure themselves.”
The ditches, which are lined with rocks, also limit parking in the area. For those cars that do park along the side of the road, they now aren’t able to get as far over and take up more space on the street. Furthermore, Gluska noted they detract from the neighbourhood aesthetically and lower property values as they are out of place in an urban setting.
Gluska’s three years of petitioning paid off at the end of October, and West Kelowna council moved to replace the ditches with an underground system. While there was initially talk of having the residents fund some of the project, the City ultimately decided to fund all of it itself.
“It is my belief that they had an underground system, and when we put in the ditches we took out the underground system,” Councillor Rick de Jong described of his decision to replace the ditches. “We’re just giving them back what they already had.”
Traditionally, West Kelowna residents that have seen an upgrade done in their neighbourhood have had to foot part of the bill. This isn’t the case for Campbell and Casa Loma Road residents, however, as de Jong noted this isn’t an upgrade, but rather returning what they had.
“It’s the right decision for myself and the other neighbours that they were going to put into a special service area,” Gluska said. “We were going to have to pay for something that we already had. The neighbours that I’ve talked to and myself are very pleased that the city accepted blame, that they said there were mistakes and that they are going to correct the problem. Personally, I applaud them for doing that and now we can all move forward.”
Construction on the underground system is expected to begin in early spring, with the hopes of having it complete by June 2016.