Homes in this Sechelt neighbourhood were evacuated after a sinkhole made them unsafe in February 2019. (Google Maps)

Developer, government deny negligence in Sechelt sinkhole lawsuit

Homes in a Sechelt neighbourhood were evacuated due to a sinkhole in February 2019

No one is accepting responsibility for the 12 homes evacuated as a result of a sinkhole in Sechelt earlier this year, a series of court documents show.

The documents, the last of which were filed on Oct. 31, represent the legal action taken by two people who were forced to leave their home after a sinkhole developed in the Sunshine Coast community in February. The homes in the affected subdivision were valued at around $1 million each.

READ MORE: ‘Dream’ homes ordered evacuated as sinkholes open in Sechelt

Rodney Burwell Goy and Donna Lynn Goy submitted a notice of civil claim in August, alleging the District of Sechelt, the province, developer Concordia Seawatch Ltd. and two co-owners Ronald Davis and Ronald Antalek, and Hollywell Properties and real estate agents Barbie Whitworth and Shay Moudahi, were negligent in developing, building and selling the home to the couple.

The civil suit takes aim at Concordia Seawatch, alleging that during initial construction in fall 2005, the land showed “numerous sinkholes and other incidents of landslip, soil subsidence and similar geotechnical events.”

The Goys allege the municipality was “actively involved” in monitoring and assessing geotechnical conditions. Specifically, they claim the district directed Concordia Seawatch to “repair sinkholes and remedy conditions that rendered the lands potentially unstable.”

The civil claim notes that after a 2013 report warning of the issues with the land, the district had a duty to warn prospective buyers of the full extent of the problems, “which it knew had occurred on the Seawatch Lands since 2oo5.”

The couple bought the property in 2013, and claim the real estate agents “were personally aware” of the severity of the geotechnical problems, as well as the future risks.

The Goys have asked for general and special damages against all defendants, and punitive damages against all parties except the real estate agents in compensation for their financial losses.

In response, the province alleges the Goys “knew or ought to have known” about the geotechnical issues, particularly sinkholes, to which the property was prone. The municipality, meanwhile, claims its decision to approve the development depended on Concordia Seawatch’s geotechnical reports.

For its part, Concordia Seawatch claims the contract the Goys signed had said the buyers are aware of and acknowledge its “geotechnical latent defect.” The developer denies negligence, and argues the district had other geotechnical information on the land that it “had a duty to share.”

Finally, the real estate agents deny negligence and claim the Goys failed to review geotechnical reports and documents that were provided to them or that they could have obtained with “reasonable” due diligence.

None of the claims has been proven in court.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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