By Liam Higgins
A decade ago, it was promoted as the largest beachfront development of its kind in Ecuador. The videos, websites and brochures proudly proclaimed that it was a project being developed by Canadians, built to Canadian planning, construction and ecological standards.
Located south of Manta and five miles north of Puerto Cayo on Ecuador’s Ruta del Spondylus, Mirador San Jose was called a “tropical paradise.” It was advertised heavily in Canada, particularly in Quebec, home of many of the project’s investors, and attracted hundreds of buyers.
Today, the story is different.
Dozens of homeowners are battling the developers, some in court, claiming that poor planning and deficient infrastructure has caused their homes to sink and crack or even fall apart. Others complain of open ditches where “gray” household water stands and stinks.
Of the 225 houses built in the development, 29 have collapsed while dozens of others show large settlement cracks. The builder of 14 of the destroyed or damaged homes, Yves Cormier, president of Hola Équateur, a Trois-Rivières company, blames the problem on the project developers.
“The 29 houses were built by seven different builders who worked with different engineers and architects,” says Cormier, who claims that most of the damage is the result of poor planning. “There is an open trench between houses that collects the gray water and it has softened the ground. In addition, each lot has a septic tank, or biodigester, and these lots are simply too small to handle all of the out-flow.”
He suggests the developer’s original plan to “shoehorn” 1,700 lots on 109 acres was a bad idea.
One of the homeowners demanding a solution is Sam León, from Montreal. Born in Ecuador, he says he was looking forward to retirement in his native land until 2016 when he noticed that his home was sinking. “It has subsided 10 inches into the sand and I have been demanding that the builder and developer fix the problem,” he says. So far, he adds, he has received only promises.
Some Mirador homeowners have paid for engineering studies that point to project infrastructure deficiencies. They have also posted videos showing cracking houses and standing water.
Stéphane Roulier, a Quebecker who lives permanently in the project, says one solution is to build a sewer system connected to a water treatment plant. “This would solve many of the problems but the developer doesn’t seem interested,” she says. “This was recommended by the studies.”
Roulier and others says that legal remedies are being sought which will force the developer to fix some of the problems. Whether or not it brings back homeowners who have given up and abandoned their property remains to be seen.
Source: Canada Financial Analyst