Emergency bridge removal on Duteau Creek that cuts off mobile home pad leads to lengthy legal fight

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A Supreme Court of BC official says a flood compensation case from 2017 in Lumby has created a complex factual and legal landscape that remains unresolved.

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In a recent ruling, Supreme Court Master John Bilawich said the company that owns a nine-pad mobile home park that straddles Duteau Creek could not file an amendment to a civil claim for compensation stemming from the Village of Lumby’s response to flooding at the site.

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Records show that from May 6 to May 27, 2017, following a declaration of local emergency, village workers removed a bridge that provided road access to one of the park’s pads and entered onto the grounds of the park to enforce a neighboring property’s berm.

In October 2017, 1033040 BC Ltd. filed a civil claim for compensation based on the loss of business due to one pad being blocked off after the bridge was taken down.

In July 2018, the company amended its notice of civil claim and asked that the property be restored to pre-flood condition.

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The following month, the village filed an amended response saying it was not liable for the costs.

In January 2019, the company directed its compensation claim to the Emergency Program Act, at which point the village appointed an adjuster to come up with a compensation offer. The EPA has a compensation mechanism for people who suffer a property loss due to a local authority acquiring or using their land during a state of emergency.

In August 2021, the adjuster quoted $23,880 to cover damages to the driveway, septic system and the pad that was cut off.

The village passed this offer on to the company, but, according to the court, it did not respond.

Bilawich said the EPA claim was afterward stalled.

In August 2022, the company asked to amend its civil claim to include, among other things, travel costs related to repairs, increases to the water bill, loss of a power pole, loss of fences, and an increased claim for compensation.

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The village said some of the amendments had already been addressed in the EPA application.

“The defendant argued that the paragraphs in the draft further amended notice of civil claim to which it objects deal with claims which have been addressed or which should have been addressed in the EPA claim,” Bilawich wrote.

“In my view, it is necessary and appropriate for the plaintiff to set out facts regarding the flood, the defendant’s entry onto the property, steps taken in its response to the flood and regarding the EPA claim process. These set the stage for the complex factual and legal landscape in which this claim finds itself. However, it is not appropriate for the plaintiff to include in its claim for ‘Non-EPA Damages’ categories of losses and damages which have already been addressed or which ought to have been addressed under the EPA claim.”

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Bilawich ruled the company can apply for compensation with a revised claim that “addresses the duplicate claims issue identified in these reasons.”

According to corporate records, the sole director of 1033040 BC Ltd. is George Liam, who has a Richmond mailing address.

The Supreme Court of BC has 15 Masters, who handles some civil cases and decides on pre-trial motions and procedural orders.

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