SALMON ARM - A woman who tripped on a broken crosswalk sign has made strides in court after suing the City of Salmon Arm over the incident.
The ‘slip and fall case’ was heard last month in Kelowna, although the actual incident took place March 16, 2013, according to a written judgement from Supreme Court Justice Gary Weatherill.
It was around 10:30 p.m. when the plaintiff, Cindy Lee Binette, tripped on a metal traffic sign base near the corner of 2 Street and 5 Avenue in Salmon Arm. The base was what remained of a yellow advance crosswalk sign that had been severed from it some months prior and somehow ended up in a nearby resident’s back yard. At that time, the sign was picked up by a city maintenance worker, but due to the amount of snow on the sidewalk, he couldn’t figure out where it had come from. The sign was put in storage until the spring snow melt.
The city was notified of Binette’s fall on March 18, 2013, and by 1 p.m. that same day, had re-installed the sign and eliminated the hazard, Weatherill said in his judgement.
The city has an unwritten complaints-based policy for inspecting and maintaining sidewalks and uses its ‘best efforts’ to reinstall or fix damaged signage as soon as possible.
The plaintiff accused the city of negligence for permitting the base of the sign to remain a hazard to people walking by, and for failing to identify or repair it within a reasonable amount of time after the snow melted. The city defended its actions, arguing it took reasonable steps to deal with the broken sign, with the limited resources available.
The judge sided with the plaintiff.
“The City knew that the sign was missing from its intended location and, I am satisfied, would or should have known from looking at the end of the recovered (post) that it had been sheared off from the base located somewhere on a sidewalk near a crosswalk,” Weatherill said.
He described photographs from the scene showing “very jagged and hazardous ends” sticking up from the base and said the post found by the maintenance worker would likely have had matching jagged edges, indicating it came from somewhere near a crosswalk in the area.
“If using “best efforts” was the standard, this knowledge… should have moved the matter of locating and remediating the sign and base to the priority of immediacy as soon as the snow had melted,” Weatherill said.
He found the city fell short in the implementation of its policy and the plaintiff suffered as a result. He allowed Binette’s liability claim, with costs, and said she can proceed to trial to prove her damages.
The court judgement does not say what injuries Binette suffered, or what she is seeking for damages.
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