A group of residents on Paddle Road are feeling trapped in their homes due to the ongoing construction of an apartment building.
Karen Grieder, a resident of one of five homes at the end of Paddle Road, said the homes have been isolated several times in recent weeks during working days due to ongoing road work related to the construction of a four-storey, 112-unit apartment building on Paddle Road by developer Seymour Pacific Developments.
Grieder, 75, said the road work, as construction crews connect the property to municipal water and sewer services, install storm drains, and construct curbs and gutters, has occasionally closed access to the residents, many of whom are elderly and/or disabled, who must park almost half a kilometre from their homes and walk across what she considers a dangerous construction site.
Grieder, who has recently had hip surgery, also said she and her neighbours are concerned that emergency vehicles, like ambulances and fire trucks, don’t have access to their homes at these times and they fear for their safety.
“I don’t blame the construction company because they aren’t in charge of the road,” she said.
“I blame the Municipality of North Cowichan for this because that is who we pay taxes to for roads. They should have constructed a temporary road for us to use while this work is going on.”
Tobius Holmes, who also lives at the end of Paddle Road, depends on an electric scooter to get around due to a health condition.
He said he, and his roommate who also has mobility issues, have been housebound for weeks because they can’t get through the construction site on Paddle Road.
Holmes said they can only get past the construction site before 7 a.m. and after 6 p.m. on many weekdays.
“We were never told this was going to happen,” he said.
“We can’t get to doctor appointments or even get groceries. Some accommodations should have been made so that this wouldn’t have happened to us.”
A statement from North Cowichan said the municipality has issued the owner of 6472 Paddle Rd. a highway construction permit to allow work within a municipal roadway.
“Construction along Paddle Road is challenging due to the depth of pipe that is required, the narrow area where equipment can work, and the significant amount of rock that has been encountered,” the statement said.
“The municipality’s obligation is to ensure public safety and compliance with terms of the highway construction permit. Site safety is the responsibility of the contractor at all times until the municipality issues a completion certificate.”
The statement said Island Ford, which is adjacent to Paddle Road, has agreed to allow emergency vehicle access through their site if necessary during construction.
“Municipal staff have visited the Paddle Road site on many occasions for site inspections and also in response to resident complaints,” it said.
“The land owner has retained a consultant engineer who visits the site almost daily and provides the municipality with site reports. The municipality is satisfied that work is being done in accordance with conditions of the permit, however, we acknowledge the concerns of residents and the disruption that this may cause them. The land owner expects construction on the roadway to continue for approximately two to three weeks.”
Calls to Seymour Pacific Developments were not returned.