Ken Seeley and his wife had a nice little yard that they’ve cleared of excess brush over the years so they can have a view of the water.
They had some mature fruit trees, a couple of golden labradors, and a peaceful life.
They’ve been in their home 20 years. When Seeley turned 70, he retired from the trucking business he started here in town in 1964. That was four years ago now.
But as of Tuesday night, their nice little yard is quite a lot smaller.
A bank behind their house sheared off in a flow of mud in the middle of the night, tearing through their yard and into their neighbours’, bringing with it more than a few of their trees, including an old walnut that reached more than 65 feet into the sky. As this was happening, the Seeleys were mopping up their basement to try and minimize the damage inside.
Seeley lives opposite the intersection of Petersen Road and Cheviot Road. A culvert that was installed to divert the water runoff from the subdivision north of Sequoia Springs Golf Course down the ditch on the west side of Petersen became plugged at some point Tuesday evening during heavy rainfall. Water and mud was sent across Petersen and into Seeley’s yard instead, causing significant damage to both his and his neighbour’s property.
“There’s quite a chunk of property missing,” Seeley said, looking out over his yard, much of which is now in the form of mud and debris spread across his neighbour’s property. “When she let go, she must have really let go.”
Diane Grudzinskas, the neighbour whose property is now covered by the Seeleys’ sheared bank, says she also lost six pear trees, two nut trees and an apple tree because of the slide.
“Right now it’s just a big mud pit,” she said.
Seeley claims that in the past 20 years in that house, this scenario has happened four times. Each time they complained to the city, he said they were told that it’s up to the individual property owners to ensure culverts are clear.
But aside from a few sleepless nights attempting to keep their basement dry, as Monday’s was, they haven’t seen extensive damage until now.
Instead of a letter, this time the city actually showed up to look around as well as clean out the culvert and ditch.
“The city has been down here to take pictures and everything this time,” he said, “and they told me not to do anything with it until they get all the paperwork done. I guess I have to sit here and look at it for a little while. I’m not sure what that deal is,” Seeley said.
Drew Hadfield, Transportation Manager for the City of Campbell River, said that because the property where the culvert in question is located is still under development, it has not been officially inspected by the city to meet regulatory or safety guidelines and is therefore not yet their responsibility to address these issues.
He said that once the inspection on the completed property is done and the city is satisfied with the condition of the property, they will then take over the maintenance of the culvert.
Hadfield added that there are bound to be “localized issues like this,” considering the current amount of rain combining with fallen leaves and other debris, “but our crews are definitely out there doing the best we can.”