District of Summerland found liable for slippery sidewalk - InfoNews

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District of Summerland found liable for slippery sidewalk

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January 22, 2019 - 5:30 PM

The District of Summerland found out the hard way the consequences of not following written policies on snow removal.

A Jan. 18 decision by Supreme Court justice Robert Johnston ruled in favour of plaintiff Muriel Winona Scheck that a slippery Summerland sidewalk was the municipality’s fault when Scheck slipped and fell on the sidewalk near her senior’s residence on Dec. 29, 2015.

Scheck sued both the municipality and Parkdale Place Housing Society over the fall, but her case against Parkdale, the operator of the building in which she lived, was dismissed.

The judge found Summerland’s sidewalk snow removal bylaw to be a reasonable policy decision that balanced the duty of care Summerland owed to those using the sidewalks against the services the municipality could afford to deliver to those users.

But the judge noted the bylaw did not stand alone, as Summerland also had assumed an obligation to inspect its sidewalks for snow and ice through its policy manual which required the municipality to inspect its sidewalks and notify the adjacent property owner if clearing was necessary.

The judge found the municipality’s failure to follow its written inspection policy due to a limited budget and human resources did not “rise to the level of a policy immunity defence.” Instead, he called it “at best, an operational decision to ignore the policy adopted by municipal council.”

The judge said Summerland breached its own policy by failing to inspect its sidewalks for snow and ice, which the judge previously found were present on the sidewalk outside Scheck’s home on Dec. 29, 2015.

Johnston found the municipality failed to look for snow or ice and therefore did not take the necessary steps to remove it, either by contacting Parkdale or the municipality’s contractor to have it removed, calling Summerland’s breach “a significant factor” in Scheck’s injury.

The judge has ordered Summerland to pay damages to Scheck, but the amount has yet to be determined.


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