City not liable for hydrant leak damage

A Terrace resident is furious that the city's insurance is refusing to cover $10,000 in damage to her basement caused by a city pipe leak.

  • Jul. 27, 2012 1:00 p.m.

A TERRACE resident is furious after water from a city-owned fire hydrant destroyed the basement of her home and the city’s insurance refused to pay for it.

Tonya Stenquist, who runs a daycare from her home on Sparks St., says water from a broken city pipe caused $10,000 worth of damage to her property and belongings.

The hydrant is located about 14 metres from her home, and damage was caused by a leak sprung from an underground pipe that feeds the hydrant.

But in response to a claim she filed with the city to recover costs, the Municipal Insurance Association of British Columbia, the city’s insurers, said the city is not liable and will not be paying.

It came through 13.4 m of land through concrete footings,” said Stenquist of water from the city-owned pipe that flooded her basement.

She first noticed water in the basement Friday, June 30, the first day of a long weekend.

We pulled the carpet back and tried to make dams and tried to stop it,” Stenquist explained, adding she called someone in to check the pipes and water connections inside her home.

Nothing was found to be wrong, she said.

On Tuesday July 3, Stenquist called the city.

And when she went outside to stand on her front lawn, Stenquist said it squished beneath her feet.

Water was coming up over my feet,” she said.

The city determined it was a leak in an underground fire hydrant pipe.

They shut it off, wrapped a plastic bag around it, and there it sits,” she said.

Stenquist said that she took two trucks full of personal items and daycare items to the dump.

My daughter had to leave for two days because it was so wet in here,” she said. “She has asthma.”

But after filing a claim with the city,  Stenquist said its insurers refused to cover the cost of damage to her home.

Our investigation into this matter has concluded and we regret to inform you on behalf of the city that we are unable to assist you with your claim,” said a letter to Stenquist from assistant claims manager from the city’s insurer David Tupper.

In this case the flooding appears to have been related to a hydrant leaking below ground,” it said. “The city is not automatically responsible for leaking water simply because the city owns and maintains the water infrastructure.”

The letter continued that as the city has no way to monitor buried water infrastructure and anything could have caused the leak, there was no way to tell a leak would happen.

Because of this, and because the city does test its hydrants, the city was not negligent and therefore it is not required to pay, said the letter,

An initial letter from the city’s insurance company noted section 288 of the Local Governments Act.

A municipality, council, regional district, or greater board, as defined in section 872, is not liable in any action based on nuisance … if damages arise, directly or indirectly, out of the breakdown or malfunction of (a) sewer system, (b) a water or drainage facility or system, or “a dike or a road.”

But Stenquist asked, if it is city infrastructure on city property that caused thousands worth of damage to her home, who is then responsible to pay?

“Water damage destroyed my finished basement,” said Stenquist. “How can you not be responsible to pay for a fire hydrant that you own?”

Just Posted

Ministry defends proposed hunting restrictions

Options intended to balance population and allocation to move forward with input by April or May

Terrace RCMP Inspector Syd Lecky transferring to Kamloops

Departure likely months away, replacement process yet to begin

Province to boost ER services at Mills Memorial

Money to add salaried doctor positions

Province opens public input on policing standards

The move flows from recommendations of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry

Terrace hockey player breaks all-time points record in Major Midget League

Prospects are bright for Mason Richey, suiting up this fall with the West Kelowna Warriors

Ottawa proposes restricted pot labels, packages

Packaging will include red stop sign with marijuana leaf and ‘THC’

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. Scientists witness first-ever documented killer whale infanticide

“It’s horrifying and fascinating at the same time.”

Okanagan Falls winery showing international photo project

Liquidity Wines will be sole Canadian show of National Geographic’s Photo Ark

Lawyer for one suspect in beating of man with autism says he’s not guilty

Ronjot Singh Dhami will turn himself in, lawyer said

Liberals awarded $100,000 contract to man at centre of Facebook data controversy

Christopher Wylie says his voter-profiling company collected private information from 50 million Facebook users

Facebook’s Zuckerberg admits mistakes in privacy scandal

Zuckerberg admits to privacy scandal involving a Trump-connected data-mining firm, but no apology

UPDATE: Former B.C. city councillor sentenced nine months for sexual assault

Dave Murray, convicted this past fall, hired a private investigator to intrude on the victim’s life.

Online threat to U.S. high school traced to Canadian teen

A 14-year-old girl has been charged in connection with an online threat against a high school

Most Read