Porter Creek residents blast infill idea

Christine Bedford knows botched blasting projects can happen. She only has to remember the blasting project that sent 22-kilogram boulders sailing into the Lobird subdivision in 2008 to know that blasting can go awry.

Christine Bedford knows botched blasting projects can happen.

She only has to remember the blasting project that sent 22-kilogram boulders sailing into the Lobird subdivision in 2008 to know that blasting can go awry.

That’s why Bedford is worried about the city’s proposal to blast bedrock in her Porter Creek neighbourhood to make way for infill developments.

A month and a half ago, area residents received letters saying the city wants to create infill housing in pockets of land beyond 12th Avenue and Hemlock.

In 2008, the city called a neighbourhood meeting to discuss the issue.

The area sits on bedrock that would need to be blasted before sewer and water pipes could be installed.

It’s also currently a popular greenspace where neighbourhood kids build forts and ride BMX bikes.

Nervous about the city’s plan, Bedford drafted a letter and had it signed by 23 neighbours.

The letter calls on territorial ministers to prevent the land from being transferred to the city for development. It was presented in the legislature April 1.

The residents cite safety as their primary concern.

Bedford is worried the blasting could affect her house’s foundation, window fixtures and basement.

“Sometimes basement damage doesn’t show up for 10 to 15 years,” she said.

Worse, it could send boulders sailing into her home. After all, it’s happened before.

“Some of our homes are 100 yards from the bedrock,” she said.

“What do you do with kids, animals and seniors in the area when the blasting is going on?”

She’s also worried the blasting might cause damage to the nearby Porter Creek High School.

Richard Wagner echoes many of Bedford’s concerns. He adds noise disruption to the list of worries he has about the infill project.

“I have a friend who lived in Lobird during the blasting and she said it was a deafening noise.”

Besides, the city’s plan to blast the area to develop 10 to 20 homes isn’t financially viable, he adds.

“Personally, as a taxpayer, I don’t think it’s economic to put sewer and water lines where there’s that much bedrock,” he said.

The city hasn’t told residents when it plans to move ahead with the infill housing. It probably won’t be in the near future, said city planning manager Mike Gau.

It might not even go ahead at all, he said.

“We would see first if it’s feasible, then we would work with the residents and go through a public consultation process.”

The city would also have to do a full set of geological studies to see if it would be safe to blast in the area, he added.

But that hasn’t comforted Bedford, who is frustrated with the city’s approach.

“One of the councillors said to me, ‘My husband could go back there and blast and you wouldn’t feel a thing,’” said Bedford.

“And when I brought the issue forward to (Mayor Bev Buckway) she said to me, ‘We’re not all government employees who can afford $400,000 homes..’”

“I’m concerned about the comments that are coming out of the mayor’s office.”

She’s hoping the Yukon government will address the situation.

If the development proceeds, Bedford and Wagner would like to see the territory set aside money to cover damages resulting from blasting.

“We wouldn’t want it to go as far as litigation,” said Wagner.

“The people in Lobird are still in litigation for damages from 2008.”

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

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