A Mara Lake houseboat firm and property owner are suing the province and the District of Sicamous, alleging that a debris torrent that all but destroyed the business June 23 was caused by negligence.
Waterway Houseboats Ltd. and Vinco Holdings, the company from which it leases its operational base, have filed a joint notice of civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court seeking compensation for damages and lost business.
The plaintiffs state that the flood destroyed every building and all improvements to the waterfront property. They also claim that the land’s market value has been reduced; that it is no longer a riparian property since the course of Sicamous Creek was altered by the torrent; and that a buildup of debris in the lake interferes with the operation.
They cite damages of more than $1.7 million, including the cost of cleanup, customer refunds and lost business for the remainder of 2012. The defendants have 30 days in which to file responses to the claim.
Heavy rain combined with late spring runoff caused extensive flooding in the area on June 23. Tourism-related operations in the area have struggled to recover from a loss of peak-season business.
Waterways, which has rented houseboats on the lake since 1968, has since re-opened.
The plaintiffs say the debris torrent was caused by logging in the watershed, which has accelerated for mountain pine beetle salvage operations, and improper construction of the Skyline forest service road in the 1990s.
They claim the natural channel that formed the banks of the creek was altered. A culvert installed at that time blocked the creek and led to the accumulation of debris from above. They say the provincial government and the district should have been aware of the hazard, since there have been four previous flood events.