Riverbank erosion leaves St. Vital residents on the hook for large repair bill
WINNIPEG -- Buying a house along the river is a dream for many homeowners, but for a stretch of houses along the Red River in St. Vital, it's become a nightmare.
Several houses on McNulty Drive look like their backyards were hit by an earthquake due to heavy erosion.
In November of 2020, Adrian Auriti got a call from his mother saying her backyard fell.
"I couldn't comprehend what she meant by that, so I drove here immediately and noticed the 14-foot drop from the deck down basically," Auriti said.
Auriti said the backyard sunk in a matter of minutes.
The city sent out an official to assess the damage, and the family hired a geotech engineer to do water tests and try to identify the cause of the sudden erosion.
Adrian said his parents worked their whole lives to buy this house.
"My parents purchased this home back in 2011 as their retirement home, and (to have) young grandkids play in this backyard and enjoy with the dogs and everything like that," said Adrian. "You see your property value basically just vanish."
Adrian said the damage isn't covered by insurance, and they couldn't get any support from the government.
But this isn't the first time eroding banks have eaten away at backyards in the area.
In February of 2020, a group of residents on Dunkirk Drive saw large pieces of their bank get swallowed up by the Red River after unusually high water levels the year before.
The residents banded together and spent close to one million dollars out of pocket to repair the bank.
St. Vital City Councillor Brian Mayes said the city has never helped with the cost of repairing river banks on private property, but seeing the erosion on McNulty is heartbreaking.
"You wouldn't logically think suddenly this is going to give away someday. It'll be more like Dunkirk where they just keep shaving away for 50 years," said Mayes. "(McNulty) was like 50 years in a day kind of thing, like an elevator drop."
Mayes said the city used to have a $500,000 River Bank Stabilization Budget that was used to repair public banks along with parks and cemeteries, but that was cut from the budget to make revenue targets.
Adrian and his brother Julian Auriti set up a GoFundMe page for their parents called "Save McNulty Place" to help them cover some of the cost of repairing their backyard.
"That backyard had so many good memories," said Julian. "Our parents had their 25th wedding anniversary here, we were able to hold our whole family back there with a ton of different people."
Auriti said the construction on the banks is ongoing, and his parents will have to fill the hole themselves.
"And it still might not ever be to where it was before," he said.