Edmonton homeowner calls for tighter infill housing rules after damage along property line

An Edmonton homeowner is frustrated after her fence — and the ground beneath it — collapsed into an excavated infill housing site.

'The developer did not have to satisfy the city that they were protecting adjacent property,' says homeowner

Fencing and dirt from Sarah Eadie's home [left] slid into the infill site next door during a storm last Wednesday. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

An Edmonton homeowner is frustrated after her fence — and the ground beneath it — collapsed into an excavated infill housing site. 

High winds during last Wednesday's province-wide storm caused the fence and soil in Sarah Eadie's yard to slide into the excavated infill site next to her home.

Developer MV Holdings Inc. is building two skinny homes in the lot near 128th Street and 108th Avenue.

Eadie says the developer consulted an engineer after the damage, and at their advice he shored up the remaining dirt to prevent more erosion.
Construction of two skinny houses is underway next to Sarah Eadie's home, where some of the land from her property slid into the excavation site. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

She said the developer has gone out of his way to fix the problem, and is happy with his efforts so far.

But her issue is with the fact that contractors aren't required by the city to put up shoring when they're developing an infill home.

"I was quite shocked to discover that, as part of the development permit application process, the developer did not have to satisfy the city that they were protecting adjacent property owners and adequately shoring," Eadie said.

The Alberta Building Code, administered by Alberta Municipal Affairs, does not require infill excavation sites to shore up the walls of the dig to prevent sliding.

"Currently, there [are] no requirements for shoring," said Chad Rich, general supervisor of the city's safety code, permits, and inspections department. "It's a shallow excavation. It's not a trench. It's a wide excavation."

He added that "past practices and soil conditions for the Edmonton area dictate that it's not as big of a concern as if it was rock or sand or something like that."
Sarah Eadie said the developer has gone out of his way to fix the erosion issue, but she's upset that Edmonton doesn't require infill developers to shore up their sites. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

After seeing a picture of the property damage, Rich said he is "happy to see that nothing is exposed foundation-wise or down to [the] footing." 

In this case, the homeowner and the contractor are working together to fix the matter. But Rich says in a situation like this where the two aren't co-operating, the city would step in as a mediator.

"It's unfortunate that's it's crossed [the] property line but not of concern to the adjacent structure at this point," he said.

Chad Rich, general supervisor with the city's safety codes, permits and inspections department, said infill developers aren't required to shore their excavation sites because they are shallow and wide. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Still, Eadie would like the city to require developers to require shoring the prevent collapsing infill sites and reassure adjacent homeowners.

"I understand the push for density. And when it's done well, it's a good idea. But people in communities like mine are resistant and this is why."

Rich said a change in the process isn't planned yet, but it could be at a later date.