Geotechnical testing is finally beginning in a wooded area in Hay River targeted for a residential land development that would be known as Fraser Place.
Speaking on Aug. 6, Glenn Smith, the senior administrative officer (SAO) with the Town of Hay River, said preliminary work had begun that day.
“Our planned geotechnical work that’s required for the development of that area is underway now,” he said. “So there’s some equipment that will be in the area doing some very small test holes, excavation equipment.”
Smith said the drilling equipment will be coming in this week to complete the sampling.
The SAO said it will be a quick activity, noting the work is supposed to be completed by the end of this week.
Fraser Place would consist of part of the so-called Hay River Nature Park, a wooded area covering about a half-kilometre along the shore of the Hay River in the vicinity of the Keith Broadhead Memorial Twin Park.
The core samples obtained by the drilling will undergo geotechnical studies by engineers.
“So we’ll expect the reports that come back from that sometime this year and then we’ll work towards doing the design and engineering type of work that’s needed for planning,” said Smith, adding the reports will probably be back by the fall.
The testing is a “critical stage” of the project in terms of determining what can be done in the area, he added. “The plan was always to get this work completed and then really go from there in terms of looking at options for design.”
Smith explained the geotechnical testing will set the foundation for determining how the land can be used and where it’s appropriate to put underground and aboveground infrastructure.
There’s a fair amount of work ahead to complete the study, design and consultation, he said. “So there’s still quite a few steps to be done ahead of any type of construction.”
Smith couldn’t exactly say when construction would begin on developing the land.
“I think we’re hoping for next year to work through all those stages and hopefully work towards construction starting next year, but there are certainly a lot of pre-steps that are needed towards getting that done, including the funding,” he said.
No decision has been made on how many lots may be developed in the area.
Smith advised that town residents should use caution in the area while the current work is proceeding.
The geotechnical testing, which was originally set for late March, was delayed by the Covid-19 crisis.
Development of the area for housing has been opposed by some residents and Healthy Habitat for Hay River, which is a subcommittee of Ecology North.