Waterway Houseboats lawsuit over flooding isn't over | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Waterway Houseboats lawsuit over flooding isn't over

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
January 02, 2021 - 6:30 AM

A B.C. court has allowed an appeal from all five parties involved in a lengthy dispute about who was responsible for the damage caused by the catastrophic 2012 floods that washed out a Sicamous houseboat business and ultimately led to the government being on the hook for most of the $2.3-million awarded in damages.

Eight-and-a-half years after the flood, a three-judge panel at the B.C. Court of Appeal allowed aspects of appeals filed by all the parties involved which will now see the province, the District of Sicamous, two private landowners, a defunct houseboat company, along with dozens of individual houseboat owners, all head back to a courtroom to reapportion the liability and figure out who is owed what.

The judgment comes 18-months after the B.C. Supreme Court found the province, the District of Sicamous and two private landowners were responsible for aspects of the damage caused by the 2012 flood and ordered them to pay Waterway Houseboats and 63 individual houseboat owners $2.3-million.

The award was a fraction of the $10-million the business owners were seeking and Waterway Houseboats went into receivership shortly afterwards.

In June 2012, widespread flooding caused damage in Sicamous. During the heavy rains, a truck got jammed under a small bridge on a private piece of land over a creek. This exacerbated the flooding which ruined the property used by Waterway Houseboats.

The almost 50-year-old company sued the couple who owned and the bridge, the province and the District of Sicamous.

READ MORE: Judge orders province, Sicamous to pay for negligence in 2012 floods

While the flood took place in 2012, it was an earlier flood in 1997 and the rebuilding of the bridge a year later that occupied most of the court’s time.

According to the original decision, a provincial engineer, under pressure from his boss, signed off on the rebuilding of the bridge 40 centimetres lower than was allowed. The District of Sicamous, the owners of the bridge Bryan and Constance McLaughlin, and the province all argued the responsibility for approving the bridge lay with another party.

But Justice Gordon Weatherill found them all partly liable for the decision to build the bridge 40 centimetres too low and therefore they were negligent for damage caused to Waterways Houseboats.

However, the justice also ruled that Waterways knew they were located in a flood zone and had done nothing to mitigate the fact and found them 25 per cent at fault.

Now the Court of Appeal is now allowing Waterways to dispute it was 25 per cent at fault.

The Court of Appeal is also allowing the province, the District of Sicamous and the McLaughlin’s to argue again on their share of the liability.

Ultimately the case will go back in front of a judge who will try to figure out an award.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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