Duane and Allison Redden were on vacation when the side of their property slid toward the city construction site for the new Albion Community Centre.
“Mom, your property is gone,” came the call from their daughter.
They were in Arizona that November in 2019, and suddenly Duane didn’t feel like laying by the pool. He was worried about what had happened to their three acre property, now that the city was digging into the slope between the two properties.
They got back to their place on 104th Avenue, which is immediately east of the site of District 42’s newest school, c’usqunela elementary, and the site of the new Albion Community Centre. The portion of their property nearest the building site had slid after major rainfalls. There was a bluff that had formed, well inside their property line. Two chairs they liked to sit in were at the bottom of it.
They were upset to see their trees and vegetation had also been cleared from the land they have owned since 1982. After the slide, the city had sloped the edge of the hill.
“I was shocked,” said Duane. “I was angry they cut trees on the property, in unaffected areas. If I was here I wouldn’t led them cut my trees down.”
“We were devastated,” said Allison.
It looks a lot different today. The city has built a massive retaining wall designed to keep the Redden property from sloughing, and protect the site below it.
The area has been sloped. Unfortunately, the slope is covered in plastic sheets, so rainfall doesn’t create more movement in the escarpment.
“It looks like a garbage dump,” Duane said. “The other day I had seagulls landing here.”
They keep a sense of humor about their situation.
“It would be funny if it wasn’t happening to us,” said Duane.
The area that has been sliding is about 100 meters long between the two properties, and approximately 10 meters wide.
Duane likes to joke about the virtue of the retaining wall. On the city site not long ago, he warned a worker that he shouldn’t stand to close to the wall. The worker agreed, and stepped away. An irritated engineer snapped “That wall is safe.”
“I laughed my head off,” said Duane.
He did a serious bit of investigation, when he dropped a plumb bob beside the wall. He claims to have found the top of the 12-foot wall is about eight inches farther west than the base. He sent photos of the tipping wall to the city, but has heard nothing back.
They are told the slope is not moving, but disagree. Duane says he has observed cracks open in the lawn behind their old barn. The doors on the barn are suddenly jamming.
And they are upset at a lack of communication from the city, as drilling rigs and other machinery come onto their property, tearing up the lawn, without a phone call.
They have complained to the city that the development has caused a dangerous slope on the edge of their property, mature cedar trees have been removed, and the development potential of their property has been impacted.
The couple considered legal action. Allison has a folder of information. She calls it The City B.S. File, and maintains “It’s getting thicker.”
But after considering their legal options, say they will be content if the city can level off their lot again, re-plant what they ask for – as has been promised, and then compensate them for the loss of the full enjoyment of their property since their problems began. They were originally told the property would be restored by the long-passed deadline of March 2019.
There will be a second retaining wall, which will be on their property line, up from the first, and the two retaining walls will be engineered to keep the slope from moving.
The cost of the “earth works” have been quoted by city staff in reports to council about the escalating costs of the new community centre. The city’s portion of the development they share with School District 42 was first roughly estimated at $10 million, then pegged at $15.4 million, and the most recent quotes are $17-18 million. There are grants worth $1 million each from senior government to offset the costs.
The city has so far not answered how much the moving slope has put the project over budget.