This article has been edited to include further information from the City of Abbotsford.
One year and 364 days after the clubhouse at Ledgeview Golf Course burned down, a lawsuit has been filed in the City of Abbotsford’s name against the operator of the city-owned facility.
But the city says it had little say in the matter, noting that the insurer of the clubhouse has the right to sue in the City of Abbotsford’s name, without getting consent or providing notice.
The suit filed April 18 in B.C. Supreme Court alleges that the Ledgeview Golf and Country Club Society and Milic Holdings – a company then contracted to operate the restaurant at the site – hadn’t properly responded to a small, suspicious fire three days before the blaze that destroyed the clubhouse. The timing of the legal filing may not be entirely coincidental: there is a two-year statute of limitations for most civil actions in B.C.
In the early-morning hours of April 16, 2016, bushes near the course caught fire. The blaze did little damage, but investigators believed it was deliberately set. Three days later, early in the morning of April 19, flames tore through the two-storey golf course building’s upper level.
At the time, police suggested the April 16 fire would give investigators cause to think the April 19 blaze may have been deliberately started.
No arrests have ever been made in the case.
The lawsuit says that Ledgeview and Milic both should have done more after the April 16 fire. The suit alleges both entities failed to investigate the fire and also failed “to implement increased security measures” following the blaze.
Ledgeview and Milic also failed to properly maintain the restaurant, didn’t warn the city that ducts and exhausts of the kitchen facilities weren’t properly cleaned or inspected, and didn’t equip the building with the appropriate fire safety equipment, the suit says.
Both parties also had the onus to repair damage to the building and restaurant, but failed to do so, the suit says.
That allegation comes despite the city having, at the time of the fire, a pre-existing plan to build a more-modern facility. Months before the blaze, the city signed a deal to see Kinder Morgan, whose pipeline runs beneath the course, provide $1.3 million towards a new clubhouse. Those plans have continued since the blaze, and the city has solidified plans to build a new $5.5 million clubhouse on the site. Funding for that facility includes more than $1 million in insurance money to replace the burned clubhouse.
On its website, the city says that “as part of the insurance process, the City’s insurer has the ability to sue without consent in the City’s name, any third parties who the insurer feels may have contributed to the loss.”
It continues: “As is typical in these claims, the insurer has cast a wide net in framing its claims to preserve any potential claims for recovery. The lawsuit was filed on the eve of the two year limitation period to preserve options. The City of Abbotsford was not provided with any notice of the intention to file the lawsuit on our behalf, by the insurer.”
Meanwhile, Ledgeview and a temporary clubhouse on site both remain open, and a new clubhouse is still expected to be operated by the Ledgeview Golf and Country Club Society.
Ledgeview Golf Course has not yet filed a response, and none of the allegations has been proven in court. The Ledgeview Golf Society declined to comment.