In a special council meeting Oct. 24, Concordia Seawatch Ltd. was told they must investigate hazardous sinkhole conditions at their site and fix any potential problems.
The direction comes four months after a large sinkhole was found on Seawatch Lane, which services the development.
When the sinkhole was discovered, the District of Sechelt filled the cavity and paid for a geotechnical report to be done by Thurber Engineering Ltd. The report showed the problem to be complex, and signalled the need for more detailed study.
On Wednesday, council decided the developers of Seawatch must pay for that detailed study and work to remediate any problems it uncovers.
All except for councillors Chris Moore and Tom Lamb were in favour of the move.
“If we pass this resolution, we’re essentially putting war paint on,” Moore said at the meeting.
Concordia Seawatch Ltd. threatened legal action in a letter to council Oct. 24. The company said they think fixing the sinkhole on Seawatch Lane is the District’s responsibility and that they are still unsure exactly what the hazards are at the site, due to conflicting geotechnical reports.
Currently Concordia Seawatch is having a third engineering company, Golder and Co., do a review of the site at the District’s request.
“This is a matter that can be quickly resolved if council simply waits a few weeks until all results from the studies it has required are in and the damages, if any, can be assessed,” a letter from Concordia’s lawyer Jonathan Baker stated. “If it proceeds with this ill-conceived, premature resolution before either you, your consultants including Golder and Co., or our client know exactly what has happened and what is required, we will have no choice but to initiate proceedings in the Supreme Court which may take years to conclude.”
Most councillors were unwilling to wait on passing the motion, however, citing safety concerns for those who currently reside in the Seawatch development.
“I think the residents of the community are looking to us to put some guidelines in place so they can know with some certainty that work is moving forward and that they will have some kind of resolution to the situation that’s happening up there,” Coun. Darnelda Siegers said, noting the issue has been unresolved since June. “So we can continue to move this forward and give delays and give delays, but at some point we have to get some answers. We’re moving into the rainy season, which could cause additional problems up in the area, we don’t know … and we need to find out.”
Moore wanted council to consider waiting until the Golder and Co. report was finished to impose anything on Concordia Seawatch Ltd., but the majority weren’t willing to wait.
“We can always put something in place saying ‘we’ll give you a couple more days.’ We’re basically saying ‘get your act together, move it forward, expedite it and get it to us as quickly as possible,’” Siegers said. “We’re not going to wait weeks and weeks and weeks. It’s been a long time. It’s time to move it forward.”