By Dan Walton
Looking back at the washout of a portion of road
leading up to Castle Rock Estates, the major development clearly posed technical challenges the District of Invermere may not have been fully prepared for.
After a heavy rainfall brought down portions of the road leading up to Castle Rock in June 2012, the quality of the engineering has been debated. But from the onset, Invermere resident and former councillor Buzz Harmsworth said he was skeptical.
I know I was the only person who wrote a letter of objection to the location of that road when [Castle Rock Estates] applied for the Crown land, he said to The Pioneer regarding one portion of the master development plan
I was not a bit surprised the road washed out.
His opposition came because the grade of the hill up to Castle Rock was too steep, and part of the road belonged to Lot 4616, he said, which was a proposed park at the time.
Castle Rock cut a big chunk of that off, he said.
A lot that was owned by Kirks Christmas Trees at the time could have offered a practical solution, he said.
Right around the corner, going south, theres a beautiful gentle grade going all the way up there, and [initial land developer] Mr. Behan found it cheaper to utilize Crown land than to buy private land.
Bob Campsall, who was an Invermere councillor during the approval process for Castle Rock Estates, recalled Mr. Harmsworths objections.
At the time we talked about it, but it seemed the developers had their bases covered and had an answer to everything, he said. And Mr. Campsall wasnt the only councillor to raise an eyebrow. It didnt just pass flippantly, I can tell you that, he said.
Past developer David Behan feels he did his due
diligence, and said the road washed out because the district failed to fulfill their maintenance duties.
If you dont maintain [roads] and you get a major rainfall, this is what happens, he told The Pioneer.
But as a former rock wall builder, Mr. Campsall was wary of the supporting rock wall that washed out beneath the Castle Rock road.
That approach was pushing the envelope a little bit, he said. I didnt think it would last forever, put it that way, and I guess thats the way it turned out.
According to the original Castle Rock Neighbourhood Plan from 2003, the road was chosen for the views it offers.
The intersection with Westside Road is strategically located to provide the best available sight lines when entering this important regional arterial, reads the report.
It states that slopes would vary from virtually flat to 40 per cent for some short pitches, routes were chosen to reduce excessive grading and to allow safe movement, and that the lot layout would stress the views.
There is no evidence of instability, even on the steeper slopes, assured the document.
Roads inside the subdivision were to be constructed to a rural standard, which was to be negotiated with the districts Director of Public Works. This position has since been dissolved, and the responsibilities have been transferred to Invermeres Chief Administrative Officer, a position currently held by Chris Prosser.
Upon learning of the proposed deal, Mr. Harmsworth warned council to review Mr. Behans credentials and records of previous work complete, but said that council did not take his advice.
Sometimes you go along with the majority because you cant prove otherwise, said Mr. Campsall said.
Mr. Prosser said the recent re-engineering of the road was based upon a 100-year storm event, and is designed to withstand impacts similar to what washed the road out. Steep slopes to the east and west of the road were recently hydro-seeded in effort to slow erosion.
As stated in the Castle Rock Neighbourhood Plan, the run-off was to be controlled to pre-development flows, and the impact of June 2012s rainfall exceeded expectations.
Other developments that were approved around the same timeframe are not under scrutiny, Mr. Prosser said, and that changes were not made to the districts engineering approval process as a result of the Castle Rock washout.