Law­suit over flood­ing of Ta­bor Lake prop­erty dis­missed

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Mark NIELSEN Cit­i­zen staff

A B.C. Supreme Court Jus­tice has dis­missed a Ta­bor Lake cou­ple’s claim that the pro­vin­cial govern­ment is re­spon­si­ble for the dam­age their home has suf­fered from flood­ing.

Mervin and El­iz­a­beth Sad­ow­ick had been seek­ing $75,000 to $100,000 in com­pen­sa­tion.

At is­sue was whether, on bal­ance, di­ver­sion of a nearby creek caused the trou­ble and in a de­ci­sion is­sued this week, Jus­tice Ron Tin­dale found oth­er­wise.

Ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony dur­ing a trial held in Jan­uary, the Ta­bor Lake Cleanup So­ci­ety filled in a side chan­nel of Skaret Creek in 1993 so that it flowed into a “north-flow­ing chan­nel” be­fore en­ter­ing Ta­bor Lake. How­ever, the work was unau­tho­rized be­cause the so­ci­ety failed to pro­vide en­gi­neer­ing plans prior to car­ry­ing out the pro­ject and late in the same year, a half-me­tre tall berm was put across the en­trance to the di­ver­sion.

But be­cause the di­ver­sion was as much as four times higher than the berm, it proved in­ef­fec­tive and, by 1997, Skaret Creek be­gan once more to flow through the north-flow­ing chan­nel, and con­tin­ues to do so.

The Sad­ow­icks pur­chased the prop­erty from his par­ents in 2005 and that year and in 2006 and in 2007, the prop­erty and the home ex­pe­ri­enced flood­ing.

About two feet of wa­ter ac­cu­mu­lated in the home’s base­ment in one in­stance and a trailer home was jacked up due to pool­ing. The house’s foun­da­tion is rot­ten and the base­ment has mould, the court heard.

In 2009, the Fraser-Fort Ge­orge Re­gional District con­structed three berms on the prop­erty in re­sponse to the Sad­ow­icks’ con­cerns.

From 2008 to 2011, flood­ing oc­curred in the spring and au­tumn each year, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony. Flood­ing con­tin­ues to oc­cur but the vol­ume had been less and the Sad­ow­icks have put nu­mer­ous loads of gravel on the prop­erty and has in­stalled a cul­vert to di­vert wa­ter flow.

Tin­dale re­lied in par­tic­u­lar on ev­i­dence from a hydrologis­t who tes­ti­fied on be­half of the govern­ment. He con­cluded the re­turn of Skaret Creek to the north flow­ing chan­nel was a re­sult of nat­u­ral ac­tion and noted the house was built on an al­lu­vial fan or “tri­an­gu­lar­shaped de­posit of wa­ter-trans­ported ma­te­rial.”

“Even­tu­ally, al­lu­vial fans cause trou­ble for home­own­ers, as peo­ple of­ten have a poor un­der­stand­ing of build­ing on al­lu­vial fans,” Tin­dale said in sum­ma­riz­ing the hydrologis­t’s tes­ti­mony.

There was also ev­i­dence a beaver dam raised the level of Ta­bor Lake and pro­duced flood­ing on the prop­erty, he noted.

The Sad­ow­icks did not call any ex­pert wit­nesses.

The full de­ci­sion is posted with this story at www.pgc­i­t­i­zen.ca.

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