Some owners of properties located above Highway 20 and below Dog Creek Road are seeing cracks in the floors, walls and ceilings of buildings due to a combination of land slippage and groundwater in an area that was first identified as an ancient landslide in 1997.
During a meeting held Friday at Pioneer Complex, Terra Ridge Strata president Ed Mead said there have been water problems ever since Terra Ridge was built and most of it is under control and has been for years.
“There’s been action taken to alleviate it, but suddenly we’re getting a shift of the land, and or more water, or something that is causing us damage,” Mead said, noting of the 40 duplexes at Terra Ridge, two units in one duplex have experienced problems.
“There was some indication last year, but it was in March of this year we saw some damage. It’s estimated to be costing us anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 and that’s uninsurable and not claimable,” Mead said.
Representatives from the Cariboo Regional District, the city, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Fortis and MLA Donna Barnett attended the meeting and were urged to take action.
On behalf of the Pioneer Family Land Partnership, André Chevigny said when they purchased Pioneer Complex and the surrounding land in 2004 there were already big problems in the area.
“The old Cariboo College building sat vacant for approximately eight years,” Chevigny said, noting ever since they moved in they’ve worked with structural engineers and consultants to try and stabilize the building.
“I believe it’s a regional problem and it is completely out of our control as individuals,” Chevigny said.
The ancient landslide was first recognized as a problem when the college was having difficulties.
“I know that the ministry has a problem with Highway 20 right below us and Dog Creek Road this spring had problems and Fortis did as well,” Chevigny explained, noting the problem has been talked about quietly and anonymously because people fear their property values will be impacted.
Kamloops experienced similar water problems in its Aberdeen area in1996 when a number of units were damaged because of groundwater issues, said the city’s engineering manager Deven Matkowski.
To effectively stop the ground movement, the city of Kamloops installed 30 wells to pump the water out of the ground to lower the groundwater table.
“Water’s the only thing you can manage, you can’t change the ground, it is what it is,” Matkowski said.
A third of the wells were installed specifically in the area that moved in the mid-90s and the other two thirds were put in slopes that were analyzed in the late 90s.
Matkoswki said the cost of a well can vary from $50,000 to $200,000.
Kamloops also installed 130 metres to monitor groundwater pressure and they are checked on a weekly basis.
“They are a good indicator if the wells are working properly,” Matkowski said.
During Friday’s meeting Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb said the city checked its reservoir and water mains this spring to make sure they weren’t leaking.
“We spent $10,000 so far determining that at least it’s none of our water system that’s creating the problem,” Cobb said. “It’s been an ongoing problem. Way back there were three homes on South Lakeside we had to remove because of the slide.”
Cobb agreed to call a meeting with officials and encouraged any residents who are experiencing problems with groundwater, wells or sinking property to please let government officials know.