Eroding escarpment concerns McKenzie residents

Homeowners in McKenzie Lake worry about eroding property values as they watch the Bow River escarpment slowly disappear.

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Eroding escarpment concerns McKenzie residents

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Home owners along the Bow River escarpment in the South East community of McKenzie Lake are a little worried these days.

The hillside behind homes on Mount Alberta View S.E. and Mount Douglas Close S.E. is slowly but surely eroding away, edging closer to the expensive homes which back onto it.

There is no imminent danger to homes in McKenzie Lake, however home owners are concerned that property values will erode along with the escarpment if the issue is not addressed.  That includes potential resale issues.

Calgary city council will be pondering the problem next month.

The erosion, which has resulted in pathway closures on the crest of the embankment on the east side of the Bow River, is not a new problem.  The City of Calgary has spent upwards of $4.4 million to stabilize the sharp slope of the escarpment.  Part of that expenditure was covered by the Disaster Recovery Program offered by the Province of Alberta.

The deterioration of the escarpment over the past few years is completely weather related.  While flood waters from the 2005 and 2013 events did not directly impact the edge of the hill, they did cut into the base of the escarpment, thereby weakening the ground structure.

Extreme weather has been more of a factor, with several heavier than usual rains in the last decade washing away soil.

Even with intervention on behalf of the City, the erosion of the hillside still continues.  Pathways behind the homes on that 3.5 kilometre stretch behind Mount Alberta View have been relocated or closed.

A recent report prepared for the City of Calgary provided several options for how to preserve the embankment and protect the pathway.

The first option was to extend an existing retaining wall is the most affected area.  In 2009 a long wall was constructed and found to be effective.

McKenzie home owners would like the City of Calgary to act quickly before the damage gets worse and the price tag to fix it gets higher.

Homes along the escarpment were constructed in 1997 and 1998 and the pathway along the hillside built in 2000.  At that time, there was an 18-metre buffer from the edge of the escarpment and property lines of the homes.

Considering the erosion which is occurring, city council will look at creating a longer setback for similar developments in the future.

In the meantime, the city will make it a priority to protect the existing pathway, which is used by 2,000 people a day.  That includes cyclists who use the pathways to commute to work and school.

McKenzie Lake is a community of 15,000 residents, located between 130th Avenue SE on the north and Marquis de Lorne Trail (Stoney Trail) on the south, between Deerfoot Trail on the east and the Bow River on the west. The community was built in stages beginning in 1984 and the late 1990s. The area along the escarpment was the final phase of the community.  Homes in this area are priced at $1 million and higher with homes backing onto the escarpment still very desirable due to the fantastic views across the valley looking towards the mountains.

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