Courtroom proceedings to determine where to lay blame for the 2012 Sicamous Creek flood which damaged the nearby Waterway Houseboats property continued as a series of appeals were allowed at a BC Court of Appeal hearing on Dec. 30 in Vancouver.
Further proceedings have not been scheduled yet.
In April 2019, a judge ruled that the Province of British Columbia and the District of Sicamous as well as the owners of a nearby property were responsible for the damage. The basis of the decision was that a blockage beneath a private bridge leading to a property could have been prevented if the bridge was replaced by a taller span and the creek was dredged following flooding in 1997.
A truck swept into the creek by the 2012 flooding became lodged under the bridge, quickly creating a blockage which the court heard caused the creek to burst its banks.
The District of Sicamous and the province were found liable for their role in overseeing the mitigation work in the creek and the replacement of the private bridge. Bryan and Constance McLaughlin, the owners of the property which the bridge led to, were also found liable in the initial suit.
In the initial judgment Justice Gary Weatherill found Waterway Houseboats and associated company Vinco Holdings were also partly liable for the damage to their property as they failed to take flood mitigation measures when moving their business onto the property.
Waterway was awarded more than $2 million in damages but it was not enough to satisfy its creditors and the company entered receivership in June 2019.
Appeals were filed by all three defendant groups and the houseboat company itself immediately after the April 2019 judgment. A hearing on the various appeals was held in June 2020 and a decision was made public on Dec. 30, 2020.
The judges allowed the appeal from the District of Sicamous. It was found that in the initial case, the judge erred in finding the District of Sicamous liable to the individual owners of the houseboats in Waterway’s fleet under the Water Act. The question of its liability to the boat owners regarding negligence and nuisance will be heading back to court.
The province’s appeal was also allowed with the judge finding that it did not owe a duty of care to the plaintiffs. The issue of whether the province owed a duty of care to the McLaughlins and if they breached the standard of care will be remitted to trial court. The remainder of the McLaughlins’ grounds of appeal were dismissed.
Waterway and Vinco’s appeal was allowed but only to the extent that the judge in the initial trial made errors in his analysis of whether company negligence contributed to the loss they suffered in the 2012 flood. It will also return to court.