Paradise drawn into flood lawsuit

Andrew Robinson
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Couple filed original claim against City of Mount Pearl

A view of David and Melva Whitten’s backyard in Mount Pearl during hurricane Igor. — Submitted photo

A lawsuit filed by a Mount Pearl couple against the municipality over the frequency of flooding on their property now has a third party involved.

In August, David and Melva Whitten filed a statement of claim with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador against the City of Mount Pearl seeking payment for damages related to floods.

Their home on Topsail Road, built in the 1940s, is located close to the Waterford River, and the Whittens claim that development along the river is to blame for the floods.

The Whittens also want the city to purchase their property at fair market value.

According to the Whittens’ statement of claim, the city has already agreed to buy several homes in the Forest Avenue area where flooding issues, identical to their own, have cropped up.

In a separate statement of claim filed by the City of Mount Pearl on Sept. 27, it named the Town of Paradise as a third party in the case, stating that Paradise “has utilized the Waterford River as a conduit for the runoff of water.”

While Mount Pearl denies being liable to the Whittens in this case, it goes on to state that if it were found to be liable, then “such damages arise out of the acts or omissions of the (Town of Paradise).”

The statement of claim goes on to say those “acts or omissions” relate to the development of municipal infrastructure and other developments along the Waterford River within the Town of Paradise’s boundaries that have resulted in increased water flow.

In its own statement of defence filed with Supreme Court on Nov. 28, the Town of Paradise denied all allegations brought forward by the City of Mount Pearl.

The town says when building infrastructure or permitting development, it has always acted in accordance with the Municipalities Act and cannot be held responsible for “development approval, mitigation efforts, or infrastructure constructed by the City of Mount Pearl.”

The Town of Paradise is ultimately requesting that the statement of claim filed against it by the City of Mount Pearl be dismissed.

Speaking with The Telegram on Sunday, David Whitten said he believes the City of Mount Pearl’s decision to drag the Town of Paradise into his lawsuit shows that Mount Pearl knows it is responsible for flooding on his Topsail Road property.

“I feel that Mount Pearl in their own hearts and soul, know that they are responsible for this,” he said, despite the fact Mount Pearl’s own statement of claim clearly says otherwise.

If his lawsuit proves successful and Paradise is found liable for damages, David said he wonders whether Mount Pearl will look for Paradise to also contribute to property purchases it has made in the Forest Avenue area.

He also worries the move by Mount Pearl to bring Paradise into the case is a tactic to drag-out the legal process.

Mount Pearl Mayor Randy Simms said he could not comment on the case as it remains before the court. Likewise, Paradise Mayor Ralph Wiseman said he could not comment on the case.

David Whitten said his lawyer is set to file evidence with the court over the next week.

Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Supreme Court

Geographic location: Paradise, Mount Pearl, Waterford River Topsail Road Forest Avenue Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Dave
    June 11, 2013 - 13:50

    Also have land affected by Waterford riv. Mt. Pearl has dwngraded the floodplain map to include my property from 1:100 to 1:20. Now can't build there. It's the city's (and Paradise's) fault for using riv. as storm drain. It is now severely silted and choked by excessive growth. City has no competent staff to monitor/remediate rivercourse. Also sanitary sewer is inundated by storm water because of poor inspection and inadequate pipe size.

  • Jim Andrews
    December 17, 2012 - 20:17

    Natural Flood plains should never built on. Look at Stephenville and Bishop Falls. Unnatural developement does not make a flood plain. It is just poor planing due to looking to small an area. Bring on one group that looks at water in the north avalon area. Lets call it city hall. That is St. John's, Paradise, Mount Pearl, CBS. But not Portugal Cove-St. Philips. I live there. None of us seem to want to due the right thing, Hopefully our provincial leaders will do what our Municipal Leaders will not.

  • Bob Ster
    December 17, 2012 - 07:51

    This is happening everywhere we see rampant development. Developers mow down every bit of vegetation thereby increasing runoff. While doing this, they nor the municipalities do anything to make improvements to existing stormwater drainage systems. I've been a victim of this. The municipal government says they are not responsible. Suing the developer was my recourse...and I won. My next house will be on a hilltop.

  • Dan
    December 17, 2012 - 07:25

    House built on flood plain, case case!