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Appeal on Harvie Heights development delayed

“The Harvie Heights Community Association and residents are extremely concerned about the potential loss of our water wells due to the planned excavation of the escarpment. All Harvie Heights residents rely upon their water wells for all water needs. The consequences of a breach of the aquifer are very high. It would be catastrophic and life changing for the community, for the MD and for the developer.”
20220710 Harvie Heights visitor accommodation 3
A 55-unit visitor accommodation development in Harvie Heights will have a hearing with the Municipal District of Bighorn's Subdivision and Development Appeal Board. GREG COLGAN RMO PHOTO

MD OF BIGHORN – A 55-unit visitor accommodation development that was approved by the Municipal Planning Commission will head to an appeal hearing after local residents brought forward the potential negative impacts it may have on the local aquifer.

The Harvie Heights Community Association (HHCA) put forward an appeal on the development approval, citing the impact on the ecological boundary and watercourse, the definition of the visitor accommodation unit, the standards of parking and the required variances and setbacks. The appeal states the development authority erred in refusing to consider evidence, considering irrelevant evidence, and adopting a view of evidence not supported by facts.

“The Harvie Heights Community Association and residents are extremely concerned about the potential loss of our water wells due to the planned excavation of the escarpment,” said Howard Hepburn, president of the HHCA. “All Harvie Heights residents rely upon their water wells for all water needs. The consequences of a breach of the aquifer are very high. It would be catastrophic and life changing for the community, for the MD and for the developer.”

The Subdivision and Development Appeal Board hearing was scheduled for July 5, but a request to delay the hearing until the end of August was put forward by the community association. The request was denied, with the board delaying the appeal hearing until July 14.

During the previous planning commission meeting, the developer said they had high confidence the proposed development would not impact the groundwater flow direction.

In the proposal to the planning commission, there were 68 conditions listed for the approval of the development.

Condition six related to the upper aquifer, requiring the installation of a monitoring well at the location. This condition was altered to have a minimum of three wells, which would monitor the aquifer on a weekly basis. The wells will be screened into the saturation zone of the upper aquifer, to 14 to 15 metres below the surface. The developer asked for a time frame on the monitoring due to the cost related to it.

On June 30, E2K Engineering Ltd. provided Shape Construction with its results related to determining the depth of groundwater in the upper aquifer and the location of the aquitard in the vicinity of the proposed buildings and retaining walls. The results showed in the three monitoring wells that the groundwater readings were consistent at 5.4 metres, 6.1 metres and 7.6 metres. The maximum cut elevation for this development will be 2.4 metres.

“The footings in this area will be founded approximately 3.9 metres below the existing site grades,” the E2K report states. “This will result in separation depth of approximately 1.5 metres between the bottom elevation of the footings to the top of the upper aquifer … This is anticipated to be the worst-case condition on the high groundwater levels of the upper aquifer.”

Excavation was expected to start in July, with the retaining wall being a six-to-eight-week process at the start of development. The condition was then added that wells would only be monitored on a weekly basis until the completion of the retraining wall, likely in September.

Hepburn said the HHCA is not against the visitor accommodations but want to ensure that work on the development is done properly.

“The HHCA and residents of Harvie Heights do not oppose the development but we do aim for excellence and successful developments that improve the community.”