Unstable ground is causing issues for residents on 50 A Street on the north side of Ponoka. This image shows how frost heaves have affected the integrity of a new modular home with screw piles to keep it secure.

Unstable ground is causing issues for residents on 50 A Street on the north side of Ponoka. This image shows how frost heaves have affected the integrity of a new modular home with screw piles to keep it secure.

Residents seek help from council over unstable land

Residents on 50A Street are struggling to deal with land that is buckling their modular home units causing major damage.

Residents on 50A Street are struggling to deal with land that is buckling their modular home units causing major damage.

To illustrate the point, 10 people attended town council’s regular meeting Tuesday, Jan. 27, some of whom spoke during the open forum period.

Kelly Budd, a resident at 6407 50A Street spoke on behalf of many of the residents there about issues she has had to deal with in the last three years. They have been seeking help from the town to investigate the reasons.

Frost heaves forced her to buy a new home unit as it was literally opening up to the elements. There were times she had to put furniture against the front door to stop it from opening. Similar issues are occurring with other neighbours.

In an interview, Budd said she thought the issue was with her mobile home being too old. So her family bought a new one in July 2013 in Red Deer.

“We have two years of warranty,” explained Budd.

To prevent continued damage, Budd also purchased expensive screw pilings that go down 22 feet into the ground to deal with frost upheaval but cracks are already forming in the home and in corners of the building.

“We were told that (screw pilings) would be more expensive, but would be our safest bet,” said Budd.

The company that sold the mobile home came down to fix cracks in the corners of the structure, but those structural problems returned a day after being fixed, she explained. Company staff returned to check on the issue and stated the ground upheaval is the issue and they could not honour the warranty because of it. “They will not come in and fix anything inside the house.”

The cracks are getting so wide that in some places Budd can put a pencil into them.

Issues may have started during 50 Street rehabilitation

In an effort to find out if 50 Street rehabilitation some years ago could have caused the problem, Budd asked former CAO Brad Watson and Mike Lewis, former director of operations and property services for the Town of Ponoka, about checking into it.

“All they did was check their water meter levels and they said that they weren’t high . . . they said it wasn’t their problem,” said Budd.

Residents feel differently. In recent years, Budd says water on 50A Street does not drain but pools along the street, in back alleyways and in residents’ yards.

Last year, after a year of heavy snowfall, water pooled so much she had trouble accessing her home.

“Last year we had to go around to the back alleys and then park to get in. You couldn’t get around,” said Budd.

“All they (town crews) did was come and grade it off and then patched it up. Not once was it dug up or anything. So that’s been happening three years in a row now,” she added.

Some homes have floors that are splitting, windows are cracking and decks are at different angles close to the homes.

The personal costs are mounting. Budd faces mortgage payments on the old home and now on her new home. These costs are adding up and she would like to know what is happening with the ground.

She says if she knew the problem was going to return, she would most likely have cut her losses and moved to a new location. “Now we’re on screw and pilings and everybody says it shouldn’t be doing that.”

Town administration did not respond to questions except to say that public works is researching the issue as they want to provide council with that information before making it public.