Akin to the parental instinct to protect one’s child, the province of British Columbia has created laws to protect municipalities – the offspring of its Local Governments Act.
One purpose of this act is to “provide a legal framework and foundation for the establishment and continuation of local governments to represent the interests and respond to the needs of their communities,” as described in section one.
But a peek down to section 288 tells a different story.
In Terrace, an example of section 288 in action involves a local woman and her finished basement which was recently destroyed by a leaky city-owned pipe.
Ten thousand bucks and some elbow grease later, Tonya Stenquist was denied a claim to recover her losses by the city’s liability insurers.
Why? In the words of the Municipal Insurance Agency’s (MIA) executive director Tom Barnes, “We can only pay when the city has got a legal obligation to make a payment.”
Section 288 states the city is not required to pay for damages caused by specific infrastructure, like a leaky pipe, arising from nuisance — a tort arising from the infringement on someone’s use of their property.
Note, in this case, it is the city’s liability insurance company protected by this law. In Terrace, MIA is paid $64,000 of taxpayer’s money yearly. The city cannot respond to the needs or interests of its community here thanks to section 288.