Debris flowed down to Williams Lake below, narrowly missing the well which is under the boat shown here. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Owner says new four-laning project causes runoff problem

Ministry confirms it has been in contact with the landowner

A couple on Sutton road said they have suffered major damage to their land and structures due to an overflow of a Highway 97 drainage system settling pond adjacent to their property.

Cathy Alexander and Don Gesinger live on Sutton Road at the east end adjacent to the Williams Lake Indian Band land.

“The ministry should repair the damage they caused as soon as possible,” Gesinger said. “We will never have the natural hillside that we once had as it will in future be a rock-filled slide area, but the access and the lakeside structures can be replaced. I see no sensible reason for the Ministry’s delay.”

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, as part of the drainage system for the new four-laning of Highway 97 from 150 Mile to Lexington, created a drainage area leading to a settling pond just to the east of the property on Sutton road.

During the spring melt the settling pond overflowed and made its own channel down toward the lake damaging a long wooden staircase on the Sutton road property, washing out the ground under the stairs, covering the lakeside deck with debris and backing up against a small boathouse at the lake.

The staircase is now cracked and twisted at the bottom of the slide area and Gesinger and Alexander have been unable to enjoy their lakefront property for 2 1/2 months.

Responding by e-mail a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure confirmed the ministry is reviewing the matter, that an engineering review has been carried out and the ministry is evaluating options.

“Throughout this process, the ministry is continuing to communicate with landowners,” the e-mail noted.

Read more: Works resumes on Highway 97 Lexington Road improvement project

Gesinger said their irrigation system was also put out of commission by the slide.

“With the hot weather I’ve been trying to water everything by hand but it’s a losing battle,” said Gesinger.

Gesinger said while discussing next steps with a ministry employee on site he was told the damage would be repaired “at no cost to yourselves.”

However, now that bids are in for the reparation the ministry is not going ahead right away as bids were “higher than anticipated,” according to a ministry manager in Kamloops, Gesinger added.

“I believe the ministry manager doesn’t understand the complexity of the reparations and that’s why he thinks the bids are high,” Gesinger said.

“It’s a very complex fix as we need to stay back from the lake shore the designated distance, and there is a well very close to the repair site. That limits access quite a bit. All the existing structures need to be removed for access to the land slide area and then an adequate foundation, or base, needs to be built prior to actually placing the rip rap rock in the slide area.”

Gesinger has done some simple drawings to show how the deck will be rebuilt and the boathouse as well.

He said all the new structures will be the same size as the destroyed ones and the staircase will be of the same pressure treated wood structure.

The staircase itself is a fairly large job as Alexander and Gesinger live about 75 feet above lake level, so that makes for quite a long staircase.

Because of the rock fill in the slide area the new stairs will have to take a different route down the hill than the original staircase used.

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