Lawsuit filed against City of Edmonton over its use of calcium chloride
An Edmonton man has filed a $50,000 lawsuit against the city over its use of calcium chloride.
The civil claim is the latest development in the controversy surrounding the city’s use of the anti-icing agent on Edmonton roads and comes as a city committee is slated to decide Wednesday whether crews should continue using the product. City administration has recommended calcium chloride continue to be used.
The lawsuit, filed by resident Glenn Krause, states concrete pads in Krause’s attached and detached garages were “damaged due to an accumulation of the calcium chloride” used by the city for snow and ice removal.
“The bonding agent in the concrete was broken down by the calcium chloride,” the lawsuit reads.
Krause said his attached garage has been used as a garage for 10 years while his detached garage was built seven years ago.
He said he started seeing damage to his concrete pads after the first season of the city’s calcium chloride pilot program. The program, which was extended by a year, wrapped last winter.
“I’ve never had any problem before. Wherever there is no water, [it] doesn’t puddle then there’s no damage. What happens is the calcium chloride won’t evaporate so everyday, when I park inside my heated garage, water evaporates, calcium chloride stays,” Krause said.
“The next day it gets wet again so the solution is stronger and that perpetuates each day.”
Krause estimates it will take between $25,000 and $30,000 to repair the concrete pads and another $20,000 worth of labour to move and store items, such as classic vehicles, equipment and a hoist, in his detached garage.
“I don’t feel I should have to pay…$50,000 to repair the garage when [the city] knew, and I’ve been told by many experts, that this calcium chloride was not good for concrete,” he said.
“There was a chemical engineer telling them it was going to damage the concrete and infrastructure, and they ignored it.”
The city said it only sprayed calcium chloride twice last winter, but Krause said the accumulation of calcium chloride use over the two-year pilot was responsible for the damage.
City responds to lawsuit
A response filed by the city denies its use of calcium chloride damaged Krause’s property.
“If the use of calcium chloride did cause damage to [Krause’s] property, which is not admitted but expressly denied, then the Defendant denies that the damage was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the use of calcium chloride as a de-icing agent,” the response reads.
“If [Krause’s] property was damaged, which is not admitted but expressly denied, then the damage was exacerbated by [Krause’s] failure to mitigate his damages. More specifically, [Krause] failed to clean and maintain his garage floor on a routine basis, and failed to clean and maintain his garage floor upon first noticing the damage allegedly caused by the calcium chloride, thereby allowing the damage to worsen.”
The response also states that the city is “immune from liability for damages caused by a system of maintenance” because of the Municipal Government Act.
The city declined to comment further on the lawsuit.
City memos and studies
Earlier this year, Global News obtained a then previously-unreleased city memo about tests done by the city in February 2018 that showed calcium chloride was 20 per cent more detrimental to concrete samples than sodium chloride, or salt.
The memo further states asphalt samples soaked in calcium chloride had, on average, 12 per cent deeper ruts compared to salt.
Last month, the city released several studies that looked at the impact of calcium chloride on concrete, asphalt, metal and traffic safety.
Deputy City Manager Gord Cebryk had said the studies provide councillors and taxpayers a “complete picture” of the effects of the snow and ice program.
“While we appreciate any operational or policy decisions will have trade-offs, we feel the benefits of our data-driven approach outweigh any of the disadvantages,” he said at the time.
However, Arthur Potts, a chemical engineer, disputed the studies, citing small sample sizes, lack of raw data and the short window for evaluation.
“If you’re now drawing conclusions from a very small sample size, based on one year, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that if it were my property. I don’t think the city should be comfortable with that if it’s our property, meaning the infrastructure,” Potts said at the time.
Krause had initially filed a claim with the city but was told an investigation “does not reveal any negligence on the part of the City of Edmonton,” according to a letter from the Office of the City Manager that was reviewed by Global News.
The letter, which states the anti-icing pilot was authorized by city council, proceeds to tell Krause that he should file a claim in provincial court if he disagrees with the denial of his claim.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
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