Legal action pending against District of Sechelt over Seawatch

Sechelt mayor Darnelda Siegers says the district will not be making any further public comments about the situation at the Seawatch subdivision after being served notice of pending litigation by property owners.

Seawatch was evacuated Feb. 15 over concerns that ongoing issues with sinkholes in the 14-home neighbourhood on Gale Avenue North and Seawatch Lane in Sechelt had reached the point that “the high hazard of sinkhole collapse in combination with the consequences of potential injury or death result in a high, and in our opinion, unacceptable level of risk to the public,” according to an engineering report.

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Siegers read a brief statement at the April 17 council meeting, saying that district officials met last week with public safety minister Mike Farnworth in Victoria “to explore options for the future of the Seawatch site and to discuss an appropriate level of provincial support.”

“Over the next several months,” Siegers continued. “The District of Sechelt will continue these conversations and work toward a plan for the future of the site which could include temporary access for property owners to retrieve possessions.”

Siegers then told councillors and the public in the gallery that the district has now received written notice of pending litigation by property owners. “As such,” she said. “District staff and council will no longer be making any public comments or responding to questions regarding the subdivision.”

“When a plan for the future of the site has been confirmed, it will be communicated to property owners. In the meantime, the state of local emergency and evacuation order remain in place.”

At the April 3 council meeting, following council’s decision to give property owners a grant equal to the estimated cost of their 2019 sewer parcel taxes and user fees and the solid waste collection levy, some Seawatch residents asked that regular updates on the situation become a standing agenda item for future meetings.

Siegers’ statement Wednesday night means that will not happen.

Details about the claims being made in the legal action and the property owners involved were not available by Coast Reporter’s deadline. It’s unclear if a class action lawsuit is planned.

There are already two lawsuits pending over sinkholes at Seawatch. A third lawsuit had been filed then withdrawn, and at least two other homeowners told Coast Reporter in February that they had contacted legal counsel.

A suit filed by Ross and Erin Storey, who had to abandon their home on Gale Avenue North in 2015, is scheduled to go before a judge starting March 23, 2020. The lawsuit names the District of Sechelt, developer Concordia Seawatch, several engineering firms, an insurance company, real estate agents and others.

The District also has an active lawsuit against Concordia Seawatch.

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