Pothole claims almost quadrupled since 2015

The number of claims to the City of Ottawa over damage to cars due to potholes has almost quadrupled in two years.

'This is a trend going the wrong way,' says councillor

Extreme weather conditions last winter led to the creation of more than 150,000 potholes. (CBC)

The number of claims to the City of Ottawa over damage to cars due to potholes has almost quadrupled in two years.

In 2015, 225 claims were made, while 480 claims were made in 2016.

But so far in 2017, that number has soared to 891, according to a staff brief written in response to an inquiry from Coun. Diane Deans.

The city pays out only a fraction of the claims, but even that number is rising.

In 2015, the city paid out 33 of the 225 claims, worth $22,309.46.

In 2017, 56 of the 891 claims have been paid out to date, worth $37,017.07.

"As well, for 2017, there are 395 open pothole claim investigations pending final resolution," according to the staff response.

'Trend going the wrong way'

In May of this year, council approved an additional $2.5 million for road repair, as well as $400,000 to fix potholes. The last-minute funding earlier this year was a response to residents' complaints about the state of the roads. As city staff have previously reported, last year's winter season saw 70 freeze-thaw cycles, which created more than 150,000 potholes.

And yet, while the increase in pothole claims rose 85 per cent from 2016 to this year, the 2018 draft budget calls for a mere 5.4 per cent increase in the pothole repair program.

"This seems to be a trend going the wrong way," said Deans. "But it's not surprising given that we are underfunding our infrastructure by $70 million a year."

Real people behind claims

Deans said that the claims represent real people who've been inconvenienced by road conditions they believe are the city's fault.

"Those 891 claims are all people who've had damage to their vehicles," said Deans. 

The councillor plans to follow up on her inquiry at Wednesday's transportation committee with questions about, among other things, how the city decides which claims to pay out.

According to the city's own website, the province requires the city to fix potholes between four and 30 days, depending on the size of the hole. 

"It is important to note that the city's obligation to fix a pothole is triggered only after the municipality becomes aware of the problem," according to the city's website.