Flood victims in Pierrefonds-Roxboro sue city, borough for negligence

Some homeowners in Montreal’s West Island who were flooded last spring say they’re tired of waiting for action — so they’re taking legal action against the city.

More than 30 neighbours involved in legal battle, asking for dike to be built to prevent repeat flooding

Pierrefonds-Roxboro flood victims Klaus Bodnik, left, and Alain Furlano say the city could have taken measures to prevent last year's flooding in their neighbourhood. (Submitted by: Susan Bodnik)

Some homeowners in Montreal's West Island who were flooded last spring say they're tired of waiting for action — so they're taking legal action against the city.

Radio-Canada has learned that 32 flood victims in Pierrefonds-Roxboro, most of them living on 5th Avenue North, are suing for what they say was negligence.

"The city failed to take any preventive action before the flood. The city had an obligation to 'implement preventive measures.' None were taken on 5th Avenue North," one civil lawsuit filed in small claims court reads.

The lawsuits are seeking anywhere between $500 to $135,000 in compensation for damages.
Some areas of Pierrefonds-Roxboro were hit hard by the 2017 spring floods. There are now 32 lawsuits before the courts, seeking compensation from the city. (CBC archives)

"When somebody does something wrong, they have to change their way. And if they don't change their way, then you've got to kick them, and that's just a kick," said one of the plaintiffs, Klaus Bodnik.

Bodnik is asking for $10,000 in compensation: $8,000 for repairs and $2,000 for personal distress.

Residents say even though a year has passed, nothing has been solved. Repairs are not finished; some homes are still uninhabitable, and homeowners are still on edge.

"We're concerned and worried about what's going to happen in the spring. Our backyard is on the water. We look at the water level and we worry," said Bodnik's wife, Susan.

Klaus Bodnik said their neighbourhood is mostly protected from flood waters, but one spot worries him: the area along the nearby train line is where water poured in last year.

Residents want a dike to be built there.

The borough has placed sandbags at the site, but some say they're ineffective because of the gaps between the bags.
Residents say these sandbags, placed along the train tracks, are not going to stop water from coming into their neighbourhood. (Radio-Canada)

"This is like a sieve. Those bags are not going to stop the water. It's going to take a lot more work to do it," Klaus Bodnik said.

"It serves absolutely no purpose to have these sandbags here," said another homeowner, Alain Furlano.

The borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro says it will not comment because the matter is before the courts.

With files from Radio-Canada's Julie Marceau and CBC's Elias Abboud