Three years after a water main break caused widespread flooding and a landslide in Lake Country, the legal finger-pointing continues.
At least half a dozen lawsuits have been filed against the District of Lake Country by residents after a water main break along Glenmore Road caused widespread damage on May 23, 2019.
In addition, the District of Lake Country has filed its own suit against a developer, a contractor and an engineering consulting firm, claiming at least $168,000 in infrastructure damage caused by the water main break.
But through hundreds of pages of court filings, the parties involved can't agree on just who's to blame.
On the day of the incident, the District of Lake Country said the flooding and landslide was caused by a water main break that had been hit by construction crews working near Glenmore Road and Okanagan Centre Road West. Water poured down the hill towards Highway 97, through residential properties and the Voyager RV property on Highway 97, and across the highway.
Voyager RV is one of several plaintiffs that has filed a claim against the District of Lake Country, Glenmore 3 Development Corporation, Double T Dirtworx and Protech Consulting. The company is seeking $35,000 in damages – the maximum allowed in Small Claims Court.
Glenmore 3 Development was developing a property near where the construction work was taking place. They contracted Double T Dirtworx to construct the sewer line and the water main for the development, and Protech was contracted to provide engineering consulting services on the project.
In its own suit against Glenmore 3, Double T Dirtworx and Protech, the District of Lake Country says on May 23, 2019, construction crews were building a new water main for the development and connecting it to the existing one in the area. The District alleges the crews struck a different water main during the work, which has the capacity to transmit 640 litres per second. The water main allegedly ran for about 50 minutes before District crews were able to shut it off.
The District says it incurred “at least $168,162” in damages to District infrastructure, and it may incur further loss as a result of the number of civil claims made against the District by residents.
In its response, Glenmore 3 claims the the District of Lake Country provided them with drawings identifying the location of the water main that was struck, but “this water main was not shown to be in the correct location.”
In its own response to the Voyager suit, the District places the blame entirely on Double T Dirtworx, claiming the contractor “failed to locate and properly identify the 450mm main.” The District also claims Dirtworx “agreed to assume liability for any damage undertaken with respect to the work.”
Glenmore 3 also claims that in its contract with Dirtworx, the contractor agreed to “make good any damage which arises as the result of the Contractor’s operations except for damage which, in the performance of the Work, the Contractor could not reasonably avoid.”
But in its own response, Dirtworx denies it assumed liability and denies that its employees were responsible for breaking the water main.
Bizarrely, Dirtworx denies “that the flood occurred on or about May 23, 2019, as alleged or at all.”
“Dirtworx further says that the District, Protech and Glenmore did not notify Dirtworx of the location of the water mains, including the Transmission Main [which was struck],” Dirtworx claims in its response.
“Dirtworx reasonably relied on the District, Protech and Glenmore to provide all information relating to the schematics of the Work and/or Activities, including the location of any water mains in the area.”
Meanwhile, Protech also denies any responsibility. It points to a note on the design drawings it produced for the project that allegedly stated: “Location of existing water services are unknown. Contractor to work with District staff to locate and reconnect services to new 300 PVC line. The existing water main locations and sizes are taken from the most recent as-built information but must be confirmed in the field prior to construction.”
Kirsten Jones, communications officer with the District of Lake Country, told Castanet that all legal matters with respect to the May 23, 2019 incident remain ongoing, but she couldn't provide any further details.
Meanwhile, the lawyer representing Voyager RV in its civil claim, Roger Tangry, said that their Small Claims Court case is in a bit of a “holding pattern,” until the B.C. Supreme Court cases related to the incident are completed.
The construction project on Glenmore Road was eventually completed in mid-July, 2019.
While most of the lawsuits related to the incident were filed in 2020 and 2021, the most recent suit, filed by a resident on Mountview Road against just the District of Lake Country, was just filed on May 19 of this year.
It remains unclear just how long the legal battles around the devastating water main break will continue for.