Riverbank homeowners lose landslide lawsuit
Appeal court justices agree city erred, but dismiss case because of time limit
The owners of three luxury homes that slid into Edmonton's River Valley more than eight years ago have lost their $1.2-million lawsuit against the city.
In a ruling released Dec. 28, the Alberta Court of Appeal upheld an earlier court ruling dismissing the case because of a 10-year time limit on filing such actions. Although the slide occurred in October 1999, the time limit cited by the court began when the building permits for the properties were issued in the 1980s.
In 1999, Muriel Skinner, Constance Reid, and Kenneth and Ruth Bowes lost their homes in southwest Edmonton's upscale Riverbend neighbourhood after a landslide sent parts of their properties tumbling into the North Saskatchewan River.
The Skinner home was destroyed in the slide, while the other two houses were severely damaged and subsequently ordered demolished by city officials.
The homeowners' lawsuit claimed the city was negligent in not telling them about a study that concluded the land was too unstable. They argued they never would have built their homes in that location.
Two of the three justices agreed the city was wrong in not telling the owners that the land was potentially unstable, but the owners cannot make a claim because of the expired time limit.
"It's very difficult," said Kenneth Bowes. "We are all retired and the city has treated us very unfairly."
The homeowners said they lost almost $2 million and most of that was not covered by insurance.
Bowes said the owners have reached the end of the line as far as legal action.
They now hope to make a claim to the province's disaster recovery program. The maximum claim under that program is $100,000.