BOW RIDGE WALL UPDATE
New Story today in the Cochrane Eagle updating the bow ridge wall situation
Council approves emergency strategies for Bow Ridge walls
March 1, 2011
By: Enrique Massot COCHRANE EAGLE
The Town of Cochrane will be ready to undertake emergency work if safety becomes compromised by two defective retaining walls in a local subdivision.
After officials met with Bow Ridge residents, council approved a special provision Feb. 28 allowing the town to monitor the situation and take prompt action if any part of the walls were to become unsafe.
“Our strategies include provision for action to deal with emergency situations, inspections, and repair,” said Chief Administrative Officer Julian deCoq. “We need to keep people safe.”
After construction of Bow Ridge was completed in 2000, signs of movement appeared on two gabion retaining walls adjacent to Bow Ridge Drive and Bow Ridge Link after a heavy rainfall in 2003.
As many as 55 residences are impacted by the defective wall, which underwent repair work between 2003 and 2004.The gabion walls themselves are private property because when the home owners bought their lots the section of the wall on their land became their property. Also, a drainage swale to divert runoff built on top of portions of the wall was transferred to town infratructure by the developer upon completion of the subdivision, but in 2001 a restrictive covenant transferred the maintenance and repair of the swale to the property owners as they bought their lots.
For the swale to operate as designed, the walls must be repaired or replaced.
After the town retained Stantec Consulting Ltd. to assess the gabion walls in 2009, the engineering firm concluded design was inadequate and that clay had been used as fill material, contributing to wall movement.
As a result, Stantec has recommended complete removal of the gabion walls and reconstruction using an alternate system at an estimated cost of $6 to $8 million. In the meantime, the town is preparing legal action against firms involved with the development and construction of the subdivision, although responsibilities remain to be determined.
Town administration met with representatives of the Bow Ridge Homeowners Group and other property owners on Feb. 25, and invited them to join the legal action as co-plaintiffs.
The town will conduct inspections and monitoring on all affected properties and may require property owners to make repairs if deemed necessary to minimize the risk of further movement of the gabion wall.
“We’ll be issuing inspection notices in the spring, obviously we can’t do it with snow on the ground, because what it is looking at is grades or characteristics of the property that might have been changed that has affected the drainage. It could even be the direction the downspouts are in,” said Brenda Romanchuk, town manager of legislative services.
“Then if any work is identified that needs to be done, we’ll then issue a work order to the property owner and that will have a timeline in it within they must conduct the work.”
She said once grades are approved in the development process, property owners anywhere in town cannot change grades or do anything that would have interferred with the drainage or the swale.
“I believe in some cases that has been done,” said Romanchuk. “So this would be asking those property owners to correct that as a means of contributing to further failure of the wall.”
deCocq acknowledges there is no way of knowing how long any legal action might take, nor how long it will be before the wall is fully repaired or replaced.
“This is undeniably a difficult situation for everyone,” he said. “We appreciate the patience the property owners have shown.”
The town is also continuing to investigate other options to temporarily repair or replace the walls.