The information on this webpage is intended as an informal guide
City Infrastructure – Legislative Protection
Potholes & Road Hazards
Making a Property Damage Claim
There are strict deadlines under the Local Government Act for you to submit a claim for damages to the City. Section 736(1) of the Local Government Act states: “A municipality or regional district is in no case liable for damages unless notice in writing, setting out the time, place and manner in which the damage has been sustained, is delivered to the municipality or regional district within two months from the date on which the damage was sustained.”
City Infrastructure – Legislative Protection
The provincial government has recognized that communities require certain infrastructure, but that infrastructure provided cannot be guaranteed to function without incident or failure; in that over time, some event will overwhelm it or cause it to fail. In this vein, statutory protection against liabilities has been granted, under the Local Government Act, to municipalities who build and operate these types of infrastructure. Municipalities simply could not operate this much needed infrastructure if they were forced to be the insurers of all property damage due to unforeseen events, and therefore need this protection. Section 744 of the Local Government Act states as follows:
“A municipality, council, regional district board, or improvement district, or a greater board is not liable in any action based on nuisance or on the rule in the Rylands v. Fletcher case if the damages arise, directly or indirectly, out of the breakdown or malfunction of (a) a sewer system, (b) a water or drainage facility or system, or (c) a dike or a road.”
Potholes & Road Hazards
Potholes on roads develop when two factors are present at the same time: water and traffic. Water, from rain, snow runoff or melting ice, penetrates to the sub-base of the roadway through surface cracks, which freezes at night when the temperature drops. The water expands when it freezes causing the pavement to bulge, which breaks open under the traffic, loosening until it eventually crumbles and pops out. The City makes repairs during the cold weather using a cold patch asphalt, until the summer when shallow potholes and cracks in road pavement are sealed up with hot asphalt and compaction rollers. The hot sealing of the asphalt prevents or restricts water from seeping in, which prevents potholes from forming the next spring.
The City’s position on road conditions is similar to other municipalities in the region. Essentially, potholes and road hazards are a result of the weather and extensive use by vehicles, and not the result of the negligence or action or inaction of the City. The City, like other cities, does not have the budget to provide the level of service to make the roads “pothole or hazard free”. The City repairs the roads, including potholes, as part of its annual road maintenance program, and continues to make repairs as road hazards are noticed by City staff and work crews, or reported by motorists and residents.
If you sustain damage to your vehicle from a pothole or other road hazards, notify the City immediately of the exact location of the pothole or road hazard at 604.469.4574. The City will record the location and have it inspected as soon as reasonably possible. Document the damage to your vehicle (date, time, location & photos) and contact your vehicle collision insurers at your earliest opportunity for repairs.
Do not continue to operate a vehicle if it is not operating properly. Have a licensed motor vehicle mechanic inspect the damage.
Damage Near Construction Projects
The City annually completes a number of large capital improvement projects, which are either contracted out to private contractors or undertaken by City crews. In addition, private developers also set up large construction sites or zones. The responsibility for hazards and safety around construction sites or zones will depend on who the prime contractor at the site is.
If you sustain property damage on or near a construction site, document the incident noting details similar to the ones listed under “Making A Property Damage Claim”. The City will use the details to determine who the prime contractor is, and ultimately, who is responsible.
Property Damage From Trees
Trees improve the quality of urban life and contribute to a sense of community. They provide environmental benefits by cleaning carbon dioxide from the air, buffering noise, providing drainage from rain and providing shade. They also provide many aesthetic benefits by beautifying the landscape. Trees also enhance property values as they are a desired feature by many home buyers. Cities have policies to protect healthy trees to support the many environmental, aesthetic and economic benefits that trees provide.
Unfortunately, under certain circumstances, trees can cause property damage (e.g. windstorms, roots). In order to be compensated for damage, the owner of the tree must have had reasonable control to prevent the damage or been reasonably advised that the tree posed a hazard. If your property has been damaged by a fallen tree or tree roots, follow the instructions under “Making A Property Damage Claim”.
Do not attempt to remove a tree resting on utility wires – contact Port Moody Fire Rescue at 604.469.7795.
Sewer service is provided through a series of underground pipes which transports raw sewage away from buildings to the sewer main trunk line and on to a sewage treatment facility. Generally, sewer backups happen as a result of a blockage in the sewer line requiring maintenance to unblock it. Blockages can be caused by tree roots, grease, broken pipes, rocks or other debris that either is put into the sewer lines or works its way in over time.
Basically, blockages on City property are the responsibility of the City to clear, and blockages that occur on the private property owner’s side are the responsibility of the private property owner to clear, unless responsibility can be proven otherwise. When blockages occur on the private property side, owners need to call a plumber to unblock it. Resultant damages from blockages are not normally recoverable. Raw sewage can be a health hazard.
Water service is distributed through a series of underground pipes which brings water from the water service box to the water shut-off valve to your building. Generally, disruptions in water services are a result of water line breakages.
The property owner is responsible to maintain the section of the pipe from the building to the shut off valve at the property line. The municipality is responsible to maintain the section of pipe between the shut-off valve and the water main line, as well as the main line which usually runs underneath the roadway down the front of the street providing water service to all properties on the street. Be aware of electrical hazards in any flooding situations.
Will the City do any repairs or cleanup on private property?
No, not usually. Repairs and cleanup are the property owner’s responsibility. Contact your insurance broker immediately. Even if there is eventual liability (responsibility) attributed to the City or another Party, it is the owner’s responsibility to mitigate or limit any further damage. Under unusual or extreme circumstances (e.g. severe storms), the City does have a good neighbour policy to assist homeowners that have repairs or cleanup that may go beyond their capability.
Should I call my Insurance broker/company?
Yes, immediately. This will give your insurer the opportunity to investigate, advise you and determine whether the damage or loss is covered under your policy. If the loss is covered, the insurer can deal directly with you on your claim. This may be the quickest way for you to recover your costs and have your repairs and cleanup completed. Your insurance company can pursue any Party they believe to be responsible for the damages at a later date.
How is responsibility attributed?
Generally, responsibility is attributed to a party where a negligent act or omission is deemed a direct cause of the damage or loss.
Is there always a Party responsible for the damage?
No, there is not always a Party at fault. Sometimes the damage is a result of unfortunate circumstances, or circumstances that are beyond human power to foresee, cause, prevent or control (e.g. incidents termed ”acts of god”). Acts of God are events which are caused solely by the effect of nature or natural causes, without any interference or control by humans (e.g. natural disasters like windstorms).
Making a Property Damage Claim
If you decide to make a claim against the City of Port Moody, you must provide written notice to:
Legislative Services, City of Port Moody
100 Newport Drive, Port Moody, BC, V3H 5C3
You can also email your claim to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Make sure you meet the statutory deadline described under “Important Deadline”
The information you should provide includes:
- the property you had damaged
- how your property was damaged
- the location where your property was damaged
- the date and time of the occurrence/incident
- photographs of the damage to your property
- photographs of the surrounding location (if applicable)
- how you feel the City was liable (responsible)
- identification of all parties involved
- your name, address and all contact phone numbers
- any other information you feel is pertinent
The facts and circumstances of how your property became damaged will determine if there is any liability (responsibility) on behalf of the City. The City will review each incident on its own set of facts and circumstances. We will only consider compensation if there is evidence of the City’s negligence by either an act or omission.
The City will start an investigation once we receive a claim. The responsible department and the City’s Risk Management Division will review details of the incident. The City will also generally involve its liability insurers, the Municipal Insurance Association (MIA) and their claims adjusters, to assist with any claims investigations and claims management. Once a decision is made, you will be contacted by either the City or MIA.