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Friday, October 28, 2011

Flooded Basement Turned Lawsuit

A group of Lisgar homeowners has filed a $25-million lawsuit against the City of Mississauga, the Region of Peel and Metrolinx after flooding damaged their homes over the past several years.
Frank Panza, who has lived on Black Walnut Trail for more than a decade, is one of five homeowners who filed a lawsuit in June. Panza said his basement flooded back in 2009 and last year. It flooded again last week after heavy rainfall.
None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been proven in court.
Panza estimates the latest incident will cost him anywhere from $25,000 to $30,000 to repair. He said about five inches of water came up through his basement's drain.
After the second flood, Panza said his insurance company dropped the water damage rider in his insurance that covers basement flooding. His insurance rates have also increased.
Panza said he and the other homeowners launched the lawsuit because they were frustrated at what they felt was the lack of response from both the City and Region. While financial remuneration is one of the reasons for the lawsuit, Panza said it's also to get the City and Region to communicate formally what they will do to remedy the situation.
"I don't have $30,000 to $40,000 to pay to restore my basement each year," he said. "I shouldn't be expected to walk away from a (part) of my house."
The lawsuit alleges that all three organizations are liable to some degree for the flooding. It further alleges the flooding began after the Lisgar GO Station was built in 2007. The lawsuit states that, based on information obtained by the homeowners' legal counsel, the construction changed the environmental aspects of the area, causing the flooding to happen. Both the City and Region, it also states, had to approve plans to allow the station to be built.
Asked to comment on the flooding and lawsuit, the City issued a response via email.
"The City is concerned about the impact to residents," said Martin Powell, the City's commissioner of transportation and works. "We are thoroughly investigating the issue to understand the cause."
The Region's solicitor and director of legal and risk management Patrick O'Conner said the Region has filed its defence.
"The Region is confident it will be established that the sanitary system functioned as designed," said O'Conner.
Drew Davidson, spokesperson for Metrolinx, said, "We sympathize with these residents for any inconvenience they may have experienced. As this matter has been brought before the court, it is not appropriate for Metrolinx to make any further comment."
Mayor Hazel McCallion weighed in on the issue during Council on Wednesday, saying the City is aware of last week's flooding on Osprey Blvd. and Black Walnut Trail.
"I want to ensure the residents of both streets that City staff are doing everything, turning over every stone, to find out the cause of flooding," said McCallion.
However, other streets also experienced flooding.
Marc Drumm, who lives on Alderwood Trail and is not involved in the lawsuit, said his basement flooded for the first time last week. He said his basement has been "gutted" and that much of the drywall had to be removed due to water damage.

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