Lawsuit blames Province, District of Sicamous for causing "catastrophic" 2012 flood | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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Lawsuit blames Province, District of Sicamous for causing "catastrophic" 2012 flood

FILE PHOTO - A one-way sign painted on the street is seen under two feet of water on Young Crescent in Sicamous, B.C. Tuesday, June 26, 2012.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

VERNON - A catastrophic 2012 flood in Sicamous remains top of mind six years later for a Shuswap business and a number of houseboat owners who accuse the Province, and others, for failing to prevent it.

A scheduled 60-day trial began in Kelowna Supreme Court this week with Waterway Houseboats Ltd., individual houseboat owners and Vinco Holdings Ltd. suing the provincial government, District of Sicamous, and two property owners for allegedly causing the flood, which the plaintiffs say left “catastrophic damage” and temporarily prevented Waterway from operating its houseboat business. The 2012 flood prompted Sicamous to declare a state of local emergency.

In court documents, the plaintiffs claim remediation work on the creek conducted after an earlier flooding event in the late 1990s was negligent, inadequate and improperly designed. Specifically, they say an opening beneath a reinstalled, private-access bridge over Sicamous Creek was too small and became blocked with debris and sediment, which caused the flood. They also argue that channel restoration work left the creek susceptible to erosion and allege neither the Province nor the District of Sicamous took responsibility for designing it properly.

“The result of this course of conduct was to create, contribute to, and/or enhance a risk of harm to the plaintiffs from the flooding of Sicamous Creek,” states the notice of claim.

The plaintiffs say “enormous volumes of water, mud, sand, boulders, trees and other debris” washed onto the property during the flood, destroying a sandy beach, damaging buildings and preventing them from providing houseboat vacation charters. They’re asking for damages, and an injunction to prevent the bridge over Sicamous Creek from being rebuilt.

A spokesperson for the provincial government declined to comment on the matter while it’s before the courts, but in response documents filed in court, the Province says the 2012 flood was a “natural and unavoidable phenomenon” caused by rain and snow melt.

“The flood was not an isolated event. The Shuswap region experienced widespread flooding during the 2012 freshet,” it says in court documents.

The Province says water levels were exceptionally high in the days before the flood and parts of the property in question were already under water before Sicamous Creek spilled its banks. It says the plaintiffs ought to have known the property was in an area prone to flooding when they located the Waterway business there. The Province admits that it provided disaster financial assistance funding for the channel restoration works and reconstruction of the bridge, as well as approvals under the Water Act, but denies designing the restoration works and claims none of the approvals contributed to the flood.

iNFOnews.ca was unable to reach lawyers for the plaintiffs or defendants for comment.


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