Red Deer County proposing project to slow river erosion

County concerned that continued erosion could threaten C & E Trail

Red Deer River’s eroding banks are creeping closer to C & E Trail, prompting Red Deer County to pursue a multi-million dollar fix.

To prevent further damage, the county hopes to armour the riverbank with riprap in a project expected to cost up to $6.5 million. It is hoped the provincial government will come through with $4.8 million. An answer is expected by the end of April.

Alarmed at erosion along the river just south of the Red Deer county offices, the municipality called in geotechnical engineers to assess the area and prepare a report.

“Our report said that obviously we’ve had some landslides in that area and they will continue without mitigation,” said Dave Dittrick, assistant county manager.

“All it would take is one big landslide and we could potentially lose the C & E Trail.”

The trail runs roughly parallel to the river’s escarpment but just south of Fleming Subdivision the road comes within several dozen metres of the edge of the escarpment.

“It’s actually shocking how close the C & E Trail does get to the riverbank. You don’t realize it when you’re driving it.”

After getting the geotechnical report, the county took the information to residents in the nine lots in Fleming subdivision to alert them of the situation.

To help ensure that future development in Fleming subdivision does not put properties at risk, the county has proposed additional regulations for eight of the lots closest to the river.

It is proposed that a 30-metre setback from the river bank be in place for rear yards and a geotechnical report must be created for any new developments. No trees, shrubs or undergrowth can be removed in the district, under the regulations that would go along with a plan to create a direct control district.

Direct control districts are typically created so that county council will have a say before new development is approved.

The county also proposes that no pools, ponds or underground sprinkler systems be permitted and that no garden waste, soil or construction debris be dumped over the slope face.

If a house is demolished or moved the old basement must be filled in so that it does not impact the slope and a geotechnical report to ensure that must be done. New private sewage disposal systems would also require a geotechnical report and county approval.

Dittrick said residents are “not happy but they understand why we’re doing it.

“It’s there to protect them and also to protect them from their neighbours potentially.”

Similar armouring projects have taken place at other locations along the Red Deer River. Years ago, a major a major project saw riprap installed along a bend in the river below Oriole Park West and other erosion control work was done behind homes along the south side of the river just downstream from Heritage Ranch.

A public hearing on the proposed changes has been set for April 23 at Red Deer County Centre.

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