Abacu Mendoza loves his neighbourhood.
His street is full of tidy homes. His four-year-old daughter goes to a great school nearby. His backyard looks out onto Red Hill Creek, with its scenic trail winding through the valley.
The problem? He fears that one day his house could literally slide into the creek.
The Mendozas live at 178 Hixon Rd., a nearly 60-year-old home at the end of the street. Ever since torrential rain caused a mudslide near his backyard in 2009, the nearby embankment has badly eroded.“We love this area. We just want help,” said Abacu Mendoza, whose Hixon Road home is threatened by the erosion of a nearby embankment. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)
His fence line is gone. He moved a shed after it tilted toward the embankment, which makes a steep 50-foot drop. When he renovated his house in 2010, he noticed cracks in the foundation. Recently, his back door won't close.
After nearly two years of dealing with the city, Mendoza appeared before its planning committee on Tuesday. The city owns the eroding land.
“We've invested so much in this place,” Mendoza said. “We love this area. We just want help.”
Mendoza and his brother bought the property in 2009. In 2010, he did renovations himself, returning home from long shifts at Toyota in Cambridge to spend the rest of the night on the house.
The family has invested everything in the house, said Mendoza's wife Aleksandrija. All of their money is there and it can't be sold.
“Our marriage and every tear is invested in here,” she said. “There is no moving on.”
Councillors understood the urgency Tuesday. Coun. Brad Clark said after the meeting that he worried for the family's safety.
He would like an independent engineer to assess the land.
“My concern is that the stability of the slope is worse than it looks to the people looking at it,” he said. “If you haven't experienced a dramatic change in soil conditions because of oversaturation, you really don't know.”
Coun. Chad Collins, who lives on the same street as the Mendozas, said staff will come back with various options. None of them will be cheap.
“Remedial work on the bank would probably involve dozens of mature trees and a lot of fill,” he said.
Collins has seen homes with erosion issues along the creek, but none quite as dire as the Mendozas.
“Most times it's the top of the bank eroding into a backyard,” he said. “This is the closest to a house that I've seen.”
The house was built at a time when there were few regulations in place, so it's likely no one foresaw the land eventually eroding, Collins said.
“They're living a generation later as new homeowners and they're dealing with decisions made in a time when regulations weren't in place.”
The 2009 rainfall did the most noticeable damage. A clogged culvert near his home caused water to flood his property, creating “a small river in my backyard,” Mendoza told councillors. A fence and a chunk of his property was swept over the edge of the ravine, causing “irreparable damage,” he said.
The Mendozas are hopeful for a solution that secures their property and lets them stay.
“We're not asking for anything we did not invest,” said Aleksandrija. “We just want our house.”