Residents below Bella Vista construction project worry over potential for more flooding

Water worries remain

Residents at the south end of Vernon's Bella Vista hills remain concerned about the potential for future flooding from a major construction project above them.

Water recently poured through a gap in a massive retaining at the Frind Winery construction site, filling Joan Fehr's swimming pool and running down her driveway on Joharon Road.

Other neighbours below her on Fleming and Tronson Roads have also complained of runoff from the cleared site in recent weeks.

And Fehr says water was also reported flooding off of Scott Road, below Bella Vista.

Fehr says she talked to City of Vernon staff in the water management department and was told there was to be a meeting with contractors on the project.

"I was told they are to shut down construction until a drainage control plan is in place," she said.

City of Vernon spokesperson Christy Poirier says the city was made aware of stormwater and overland flow issues in the neighbourhood.

Poirier said the city is "working with the developer to ensure the work meets bylaw requirements, including addressing issues that may arise during the development process. The city has been communicating with neighbouring property owners to answer questions related to the stormwater issues. Where appropriate, they have been directed to the developer to have their questions or concerns addressed."

She added "any issues impacting adjacent properties arising from the development activities are the responsibility of the developer."

An excavator was seen on the site Wednesday, but there did not appear to be any construction work going on.

Fehr says when the torrent happened Jan. 7, she allowed access on her property to an excavator, which dug a pit to catch the water so it could be pumped out.

She explains that a trench was dug along the top of the retaining wall, directing the water to a nearby seasonal creek. Both Fehr and neighbour Ruzena Stivar say that creek normally doesn't run until April, but has been full of water for several weeks now.

Fehr says the Jan. 7 flood was the first of two on her property. It flowed across her garden and filled her pool with mud, rocks and water. Another happened on Tuesday.

"Had it overflowed, it would have gone straight into my basement window," she said.

Crews from the site came and pumped out the pool, and Fehr has now put a cover over it in hopes it may redirect and future debris that comes down.

Fehr says she has been reassured by Frind staff that she will be reimbursed for any damage and that she has already received a quote from her landscaper for $3,000 in repairs.

Irrigation lines were broken in the response to the flood, but Fehr says "it was an emergency situation, so I understand."

Both Fehr and Stivar say there had been no prior drainage issues in the neighbourhood before the land clearing for the winery.

In a statement Tuesday, Frind Winery general manager Ruth Hanbury said: "Due to its location, the Tronson Road area has historically been subject to increased water run-off and flooding. As part of our development we are working with the residents and city to alleviate some of these historic pressures."

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