Campbell River sewer lines near capacity, preventing new homes from hooking up
CAMPBELL RIVER, B.C. -- The sewage hit the fan for builders in a Campbell River neighbourhood this week. They've been told by workers at city hall that no new homes can be added to the city's sewer lines.
Kris Bauchman of Sagewood Homes has completed construction of a home he began building nine months ago for a client, but won't be granted an occupancy permit.
"Is it going to be months? Is it going to be six months? Or is it going to be a year? Until we actually find out what's going to happen, they're just sitting there waiting, which isn't fair at all," he says.
Bauchman's clients are Chris Staffinson and his wife, who were hoping to move into the home in the coming days, but were surprised when they learned of the city's actions.
"I was kind of shocked. I thought, 'What kind of incompetent government is it, they don't know they have a sewage problem nine months ago when we got building permits?' It's crazy," Staffinson says.
Sagewood isn't the only builder to run into problems in the Willow Creek area off of Jubilee Parkway. Those affected met in the subdivision Wednesday afternoon to discuss the problem and their next move. They can't understand why the city issued building permits only to not grant occupancy permits a few months later.
Leslie Lebid of Twelve Oaks Construction says he's a third of the way through building a million-dollar home in the neighbourhood, but has had to shut down construction because of the uncertainty.
"We have close to $2 million right now invested in this area and we can't do anything," Lebid says. "We're stopped right now. I said to my wife this morning, 'We may have to sell our house, our own personal house,' and how is that fair?" Lebid says.
Campbell River's deputy city manager Ron Neufeld says the city realizes the severity of the situation.
"There's a lot of people impacted here, everybody from the property owners to the builders to the developers to the real estate agents to the city," Neufeld says. "The one thing we share in common is we want to try to find a solution as quickly as possible."
He says the city has had to take a precautionary approach to developments until an engineering study can determine exactly what the problem is. Neufeld says the sewer lines in the area are almost at capacity.
"What the city has been doing over the past several years is investing in significant infrastructure upgrades in different parts of the community," he says. "Those were really key pieces of significant infrastructure that were needed to service almost the entire community. This area is specifically needed to service one neighbourhood. It was a lower priority while we achieved some of those others."
He estimates around 25 building files are affected by the situation and notes that other vacant lots are also possibly stalled.
He says the city hopes to have an engineering study completed in the next two weeks to determine how to alleviate the problem.