Homeowners sue City of Abbotsford over damaged houses near new transit depot

Homeowners say construction during ‘deepfreeze’ damaged houses

A large group of Abbotsford homeowners is suing the city, BC Transit and TransLink and alleging that construction on the new Gladys Avenue transit depot during a 2019 cold snap damaged their homes.

The suit is the latest development in an acrimonious affair that erupted in February with police being called to restore order during a council meeting where property owners had said, during a hearing on an unrelated matter, that their homes had “moved, shifted and cracked.”

Even before construction had begun in 2018, some residents said they were worried that pile-driving would crack their homes’ foundations.

In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Chilliwack earlier this month, the owners of a dozen homes located on the hillside to the east and south of the transit depot say “excavation and jackhammering” earlier this year had damaged their homes.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

The lawsuit alleges that low temperatures during a February cold snap, which it calls a “deep freeze,” caused the “surface and subsurface soil to freeze.” Construction continued, which the suit says damaged homes.

The suit also mentions the February council meeting at which several residents said their homes were being damaged.

“On or about February 25, 2019, certain residents of the neighbourhood, including but not limited to David Pellikaan, informed the city at a council meeting that, as a result of the construction during the deep freeze, including but not limited to the tremors, damage was being caused to homes in the neighbourhood, including each of the homes of the plaintiffs.”

The city has not filed a response to the suit and does not comment on legal matters.

But the day after Pellikaan and his neighbours took over the council chambers, Braun told The News that BC Transit had visited homes in the area before construction began and had taken video and photos. Some residents, Braun said, didn’t allow officials into their homes.

At the time, Braun said that vibrations from pile-driving were measured and found to be well under allowable limits.

Braun called the residents’ appearance at council in February a “publicity stunt” and said it was unprecedented.

Council adjourned the meeting when the group did not leave the speaking area, and one of the men present directed insults at the vacant mayor’s chair. The group left shortly after without further incident, and no charges were ever laid.

Regular council watcher Aird Flavelle said the event was “out of place and surreal.”

Maximum daily temperatures during the February in question dipped under the freezing mark for four days, between Feb. 9 and 12, during which nearly a foot of snow fell, according to Environment Canada records. Average temperatures were below the freezing mark for nearly two weeks, between Feb 3 and 14.

RELATED: Police called to Abbotsford council chambers after group accosts mayor

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RELATED: New Abbotsford transit depot one step closer, despite objections from neighbours


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