The City of Kelowna has revealed some stunning findings in a geotechnical report that it commissioned to examine an unstable slope in the Kirschner Mountain area.
“This slope, under spring conditions, has a high risk of failure,” said James Kay, City of Kelowna development engineering manager. “It is rare to get a geotechnical report that talks about a high probability of failure and in the event of a failure, high risk and high impact and so this is a very serious situation.”
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The unstable slope is located on private property along the 2000 block of Loseth Road where a large crack was discovered last spring.
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Several geotechnical reports were conducted, and the latest one has identified three homes below as being at risk of property damage. One of the homes is at significant risk with the potential to impact lives.
There are also concerns that if a major slide was to occur, it could impact even more homeowners.
“There are 100 homes on this mountain that, if this slide occurs and this road gets closed, would end up being impacted with either a different route off of the mountain, or potentially lack of water and sanitation.”
According to the report, the instability may be the result of work done on the land by a previous owner, including filling operations and the construction of a retaining wall.
“The geotech report suggests that the slope was created and constructed at a steeper than acceptable angle. They suggested the material used, so there are causal factors,” Kay said. “But I think what we are seeing in the last year or two, with high groundwater in the area, is that groundwater is likely contributing to the instability we are seeing right now.”
Kay said remediation work is urgent, and the city may impose an order on property owners at 2045 Loseth Road and 2001 Kloppenburg Court in order to get repairs underway.
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City council will consider imposing immediate remedial action at its upcoming council meeting on Monday. If approved, it could mean a very costly repair bill for the land owners.
“The cost estimates at the moment range between $750,000 and $1.2 million dollars,” Kay said.
It’s likely the city will end up doing the work and then charge the land owners.
That could spark legal action between the current land owners and the previous ones.
In the meantime, the city is keeping a close eye on the unstable slope and said it’s ready to implement an emergency plan if needed, including evacuations.