Group of Saint-Leonard residents taking the city to court over repeated flooding

Group of Saint-Leonard residents taking the city to court over repeated flooding
WATCH: Imagine living in fear that every time it rains hard, your basement or garage will flood? That's the reality for some residents who live on Belmont street in Saint-Leonard. As Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, residents say they're fed up and want the city to fix the problem.

A group of residents in St. Leonard has filed a class action lawsuit against the city because of repetitive flooding in their homes.

For decades, they say, officials have failed to do infrastructure work that they are convinced would have prevented water from entering their homes.

Franca Bucaro, one of the lead plaintiffs who lives on Belmont Street, said she’s worried.  The street was last flooded nearly a year ago, sending water gushing into her garage and basement.

Read more: Saint-Leonard residents furious with borough after flash flood

“The water that’s coming into our house is not holy water,” she fumed standing outside her home recounting the flood that happened last summer.  “It’s filthy water, it’s sewage water, it’s debris, it’s everything.”

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Bucaro claims that In 24 years her home has been flooded on at least five occasions and that last year alone, repairs cost her family more than $20,000 after two floods.

“The minute it rains anytime over 29 minutes of consistent downpour,” she explained, “the water will for sure come into the house.”

Other homes on that and neighbouring streets have also been flooded multiple times, so Bucaro and other residents decided to seek a class action lawsuit in Quebec Superior Court holding the borough and the City of Montreal responsible.

Attorney Charles O’Brien, who is representing the property owners and tenants, explained that his clients are suing for a variety of damages ranging from $25,000 to more than $100,000 per party.

“(Including) health damages because people are exposed to toxins. It’s not clean water,” he said.

He added that there are also claims for a range of material expenses, plus a request for an injunction to correct and maintain infrastructure.

Read more: Saint-Leonard residents still wait for action after decades of flash floods

On top of that, he pointed out that there’s a contempt of court aspect to the case because a similar lawsuit was brought by a resident in 1982 against the then city of St. Leonard.  O’Brien told Global News that the municipality was ordered by the court to fix certain problems.

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“Essentially replace a whole bunch of back flow preventers and put in five basins, five huge catchment basins, he explained.”

O’Brien said the work wasn’t done and that since then there have been more than a dozen big floods in the area around Belmont.

“So the claim is from 1982 up until today,” he said.

Sopiya Marunych, another lead plaIntiff whose mother also lives on Belmont, said that home was flooded three times and that her mother is on edge.

“She cries a lot of the times,” Marunych noted.  “Now it’s the season.  The rain is gonna start so we don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow.”

If the class action is approved, O’Brien estimates it could exceed a million dollars.

As the case is before the courts, the borough refused to comment.

Pierrefonds wants more answers about flood prevention from Montreal
Pierrefonds wants more answers about flood prevention from Montreal