Campbell River City Council has given conditional approval to a controversial 90-unit apartment complex near the corner of Rockland Road and the old Island Highway – the site of the old Marina Inn.
Residents on the ridge above the property have been concerned for some time that any development of the property would affect the structural integrity of the hillside – which they say is bordering on unsafe already, having experienced slides in the past.
Some of those residents voiced their opposition to the proposed apartment complex at Monday’s council meeting.
Lynn and Rolly Hilton and Dr. Patrick Rowe expressed their concerns to council, saying they have no confidence in the developer to properly stabilize the bank during the building of the apartments and are worried for their own properties, the safety of the residents of the new complex, as well as the city’s sewer infrastructure along the ridge.
Rowe said that the best way to determine the structure of the slope – and therefore the integrity of it – is to drill bore holes through it from the top, “but it was decided that this would be too expensive. But just how expensive is a human life? Who pays for the cost of injuries? Who should pay should the sewer line need to be repaired? Shortcuts in determining the safety of this very steep and highly hazardous slope should not be allowed.”
At the public hearing for the rezoning process last March, council heard from McElhanney engineer Mark DeGagne that there were, indeed, some concerns about the bank from a geotechnical perspective, but that “with properly engineered solutions, the proposed building can function as intended with appropriate measures put in place.”
Those solutions, along with the issues surrounding sight lines due to the proposed height of the building, were to be ironed out during the development approval stage – and the developers have done so, according to city planners in their recommendation of the permit approval. There are also conditions on the development permit that require that the developer’s geotechnical team and the city’s own independent third-party geotechnical team come to an agreement on what mitigation needs to happen to the bank before the development can proceed, council was told.
Council was also informed the developer will, in fact, have bore holes drilled at the top of the ridge to determine the make up of the ridge, as part of the ongoing geotechnical study.
Concerns were also raised about traffic along the highway should 90 additional units be located near a busy intersection,, currently only controlled by a stop sign. Mayor Andy Adams pointed out the traffic issue should be addressed during the 19A upgrading process, which is scheduled to begin on that stretch of the highway this year.
In the end, the development permit was approved for the complex, provided the city-retained geotechnical team agrees with the developer’s geotechnical team in terms of slope stability measures to be taken to ensure the safety of the bank – and all costs associated with the city’s retention of said team are reimbursed by the developer.