In 2013, several families in Cochrane’s east end noticed that the hillside was crumbling somewhat behind their homes. Now, six families in Headlands, situated just south of Highway 1A, can breathe easier now that the town has voted to build a pile wall.
The slope of the hill began to shift three years ago and town council acted quickly to investigate the cause. A geotechnical firm was hired and a slope assessment was undertaken by E2K Engineering to find the cause. This was to determine if the slope itself was the problem or the “gabion” walls which were constructed by the development of Headlines. This type of retaining wall is typically built on an angle facing towards the slope of a hill.
It was discovered that subsurface factors of an unpredictable nature contributed to the breach. That means the slope has varying soil strength plus there were some natural water springs below the surface and frost heaving which were all contributing to the slide. Both firms assigned to investigate recommended that the Town of Cochrane build a pile wall. This wall would be constructed on the Town’s side of the property lines. The slope would need to be flattened at the point where it declines towards the properties and the retaining wall would be for the back slope. This would promote uniform drainage and mitigate any further slope instability.
It was important that the Town of Cochrane act quickly as municipal infrastructure was being compromised in addition to private property.
Left alone, the continued erosion could potential harm Cochrane’s water reservoir and in fact part of Highway 1A as it comes down the hill into Town. One Cochrane council member believes that if homes hadn’t been built in the Headlands subdivision, the slope would not have been compromised. Smarter decisions and more research should be done with future neighbourhoods, particularly since many new districts are built alone the hillside in the Bow River Valley where the town is located.
At present, Brookfield Residential Properties wants to build homes on Heritage Hills along a slope and possibly future development is on the radar for the Agriculture grounds. If that comes to pass, Cochrane’s Land Use Bylaw would likely half plans for building on a slope because the grade is higher than 15% and poses a safety threat.
Council was 100% in favour of building the pile wall at a cost of $600,000. The cost for this would come from the water capital reserve.
About the Headlands subdivision
This scenic area on the north east side of town has beautiful homes on terraced lots. Homes have spectacular views of the mountains and the vast Bow River Valley stretching to the west. Headlands is part of GlenEagles, built in the 1980s on 660 acres of hillside above the town. This neighbourhood has single-family detached homes and villas in an adult-only community along the 18-hole GlenEagles championship golf course. The Landing of GlenEagles is a highly desirable development with 28 walkout view lots.