A settlement agreement has been reached involving property owners along Lake Manitoba.
More than ten years since extensive flooding damaged homes and property, the Manitoba government has been forced to pay $85.5 million dollars in settlement money, including to cottage owner Alice Dent.
Anyone who owned real or personal property, off the nearby First Nation’s reserve and within a 30 km radius of the lake that was damaged by the 2011 flooding may make a claim for compensation. Those affected have until April 14, 2022 to file a claim.
“Our main focus on this whole class-action lawsuit was to prove the government was responsible,” said Dent.
“It hurt to see everybody lose so much,” she said. “The cottage has a lot of memories, it was almost like a gathering place.”
Dent’s late father built the family’s cottage in 1968. In 2011, the severe flooding completely damaged the building, forcing the family to tear it down.
“It gets me crying every time. My dad was buried there. His ashes were up there, god only knows where they are now,” she says.
She never anticipated how extreme the 2011 flood was going to be until a neighbour called her one morning.
“He said, ‘it’s all gone’ and I said, ‘What do you mean it’s all gone?’ and he said, ‘You’re place, it’s flattened.'”
“I still find it hard to believe,’ she says. “The way they diverted water into us, it’s unbelievable.”
The only remaining item she has left is a piece of stained glass from the cottage that was given to her father.
The decision to rebuild in 2013 was difficult she says, as a flood channel had still not been built to prevent any further disasters.
“They need to get one with this channel that they’re gonna built, before the next flood comes,” she says. “So are we going to be in the same position again? It just brings nightmares again.”
The lawsuit proceeds she receives will go towards finishing the rebuild.
Class Action lawsuit
The class-action lawsuit represented by DD West LLP, was filed in 2013, alleging the Manitoba government was responsible for damage to areas surrounding Lake Manitoba.
A three-week trial was held from late February until early March 2021, where the the Honourable Justice Joan McKelvey of the Court of Queen’s Bench presided as judge.
On June 11, 2021, Justice McKelvey concluded that the province was at fault.
In a statement from a Manitoba government spokesperson they say, “A fair and reasonable settlement has been negotiated to bring closure to those affected by the flooding around Lake Manitoba in 2011. The Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin Channels project needs to be a priority for all levels of government to ensure all Manitobans are protected should similar high water events occur in the future.”
“The two new flood channels proposed will increase flow capacity between Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg, which will help regulate the flow of excess water out of Lake Manitoba to minimize damages and negative impacts on communities in the case of another flood like 2011.”