Resident sues District of Peachland over falling rock

District sued over rock fall

A Peachland resident is suing the District of Peachland, along with a development company and others, after a large boulder came tumbling into her backyard in January.

In the civil suit filed last week, Elizabeth Mathuik says a large boulder fell from a rock wall behind her property on Trepanier Bench Road and landed in her backyard on Jan. 8, 2023. She had purchased the home, at the Island View Villas development, in September 2019.

In April of this year, Mathuik says an engineering company assessed the rock wall and told her it was unsafe and “needed to be remedied.” Mathuik did not disclose the estimated cost of the remediation work.

In her suit, Malthuik says the District of Peachland was negligent by not addressing the danger posed by the rock face. She says the District “knew or ought to have known the rock face was unsafe.”

As a condition of issuing the development permit to Okanagan Island View Villas Ltd. back in 2003, the District of Peachland required the developer to proceed in accordance with a geotechnical report.

The property was developed and sold, save for two lots that neighbour Mathuik's property. Mathuik says the two neighbouring lots were kept vacant “due to concerns about the stability of the rock face.”

She says a second report was created in 2012 that found the developer did not follow the requirements from the 2003 report with regards to the rock face.

She says the second report found the excavation into the rock face was “too steep and unstable” and “the necessary rock bolting, benches and other mechanisms to stabilize the rock face were not incorporated.”

Then, in 2016, Rock Glen Consulting issued a letter to the owners at the development, advising them “there was a high likelihood that blocks from the rock face were likely to fall and could impact the property,” according to Malthuik.

In November 2018, the District of Peachland issued a remedial action requirement to the developer, to erect a fence around the two vacant lots next to Malthuik's property, “due to the unsafe conditions.” But no requirement was made with respect to Malthuik's property.

“The District owed a duty of care to the prospective owners of the property, including the plaintiff, to issue a remedial action requirement that adequately addressed the unsafe conditions presented by the rock face,” Malthuik claims.

The District has not yet filed a formal response to the suit, and Peachland's Communications Coordinator Kirsten Jones told Castanet the District will not comment on legal matters.

In addition to naming the District of Peachland as a defendent, Malthuik also named the developer, Okanagan Island View Villas, the previous owner of the property, and the selling real estate agent as defendants in the case.

She says the developer was negligent in the design and construction of the rock face. She blames the realtor and previous owner for not disclosing the risk posed to the property during the sale and says they “knew or ought to have known that the collapse risk exists and the collapse risk rendered the property unfit for habitation and/or inherently dangerous.”

None of the defendants has filed formal responses to Malthuik's lawsuit at this time.

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