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RDOS denies responsibility

The legal fight over a landslide that crashed into a Naramata home last year during heavy rain continues to make its way through the courts, with the Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen placing blame for the incident at the feet of developers and provincial government.

The RDOS submitted its response this week in B.C. Supreme Court to a third-party notice filed by the Kettle Ridge Development Corporation, the company behind a new development a Naramata couple claims caused a landslide that came down onto their home in March 2018.

Alex and David Lea sued Kettle Ridge last year over allegations it did nothing to deal with stormwater coming off the subdivision uphill from them above the KVR trail.

In its response to the lawsuit, the developer denied any responsibility for the landslide and instead pointed the finger at the engineering firm and general contractor that worked on the file as well as the neighbouring development, provincial government and RDOS. Kettle Ridge filed a third-party notice naming those parties, pulling them into the legal fray.

In court filings this week, the RDOS response notes it has no jurisdiction over approving rural subdivisions or for stormwater drainage around the KVR trail  — both responsibilities that sit with the provincial government.

They did, however, issue Kettle Ridge a permit for the project in 2015 because it falls within an “environmentally-sensitive development permit area.” The RDOS says the conditions of the permit stipulated the developer’s environmental engineer, Ecora, be responsible for protecting the riparian areas in and around the project.

The RDOS goes on to allege the Kettle Ridge development and adjacent Outlook development “have materially increased and redirected the flow of overland water from its pre-development state. Responsibility for these increases and changes of flow rests with the Province, developers… and not the RDOS.”

In their own response to the notice on April 1, Ecora offered a blanket denial of any responsibility, maintaining all its work was done in accordance to professional standards and alleged the Leas failed to properly maintain their land.

The provincial government filed its response to the notice back in January, blaming the developers for the landslide.

“The Kettle Ridge Development’s stormwater management system does not function properly or at all,” the government’s response claimed, adding the rain storm on March 22, 2018 was of the magnitude that both the Kettle Ridge and Outlook developments should have been able to contain it with working stormwater systems.

The provincial government also published a lengthy report detailing deficiencies in the water drainage systems of the two developments named in the legal proceedings.  

Four other parties named in the notice — Naramata Benchland Properties Ltd., Twincon Enterprises, T&M Management and Lajora Holdings — have not yet filed a response.

None of the above allegations have been proven in court.

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