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Residents plead for change

Dry retention pond under construction in Qualicum Beach is unsafe and unfair, say nearby residents
Work on what’s called a dry detention pond was underway behind the residences on Trio Lane in Qualicum Beach last week

The construction of a holding pond for rainwater overflow on town land behind houses on Trio Lane is unfair and scary, Harry and Rose Chamulak told town councillors in a packed chamber Monday night.

The Chamulaks live on Trio Lane and they had at least 10 neighbours with him to support his opposition to the construction — which has already started — of what’s officially called a “dry detention basin.”

It’s 40 feet by 60 feet, partially above ground and shoebox-shaped, about five metres from the Chamulak residence. It’s designed to catch excess water that runs down the Hoy Lake trail area before it gets to Grandon Creek and its construction is being paid for by the owner of the 49-lot West Ridge development, which is just across the trail corridor from the back of the Trio lane houses.

Harry Chamulak said his primary concerns were about seepage into his basement, but he also expressed disappointment about the lack of information he has received from the town.

“You can’t do this — this is not fair,” said Chamulak. “This (basin) will be 30 feet from my bedroom. We have no water problems — why would they bring them to us? We’re seriously concerned about our safety.”

Town engineer Bob Weir gave a lengthy, detailed presentation about groundwater flows in the community and the reason the basin needed to be constructed.

“This corridor has always been designed for this purpose,” said Weir, who said the area of town in question has been “problematic” in regards to water flows for 50-60 years. He also said what’s being built is of “good design” and has “safety features built in.”

“Once they are vegetated up, they are not necessarily unattractive structures,” said Weir.

After the meeting, Mayor Teunis Westbroek said this was the first time council had seen drawings of the basin structure. Council approved the development last year.

"This is the first time we've seen that drawing of that kind of shoebox," said the mayor. "That was never presented at the public hearing and if we had seen that we would have said is it possible to have the same capacity (basin) built on the other side (on property owned by the developer). It would be about a third of a lot. The (developer) would have to give up a little bit of money to accomplish that."

Weir said Wednesday "there's no other site it (the basin) can be taken to. We can try to explore with the contractor reshaping the pond and perhaps have less impact on adjacent residences."

Westbroek also said council can't envision all the details when approving a development.

"You can't foresee how everything unfolds, but you hire professional staff to make sure that we deal with these things in a way that doesn't affect other property owners unfairly," said Westbroek.

Westbroek was unclear about what could be done about the situation now, but he said staff has been directed to look at possible alternatives to the plan currently on the table. The mayor also said it won't be clear if the town will incur any charges for changes to a project that is currently being fully paid by the West Ridge development owner.

"It wasn't the developer that got us in this position," said Coun. Dave Willie. "He did exactly what we asked him to do."