White Rock resident Eve Henry says the city has failed to enforce the B.C. Building Code.

Homeowner blames city officials after flood damage

Eve Henry wants to know why the White Rock isn’t protecting taxpayers by enforcing the B.C. Building Code.

A White Rock woman whose home suffered flood damage early last month says her investment remains at risk more than a month later and wants to know why the city isn’t protecting taxpayers by enforcing the B.C. Building Code.

Eve Henry noted the code calls on developers to limit the probability of risk to the public from their projects, “but it’s up to the municipality to enforce it” – something she says isn’t happening.

City officials dispute the charge, assuring all necessary inspections are conducted as required on projects, and that Henry’s outstanding issues are between her and the developer.

Henry lives adjacent to a triplex development underway in the 15300-block of Semiahmoo Avenue, across from First United Church.

On Oct. 5, a deluge of water and mud flowed from the lot to the west onto her property and into the finished basement level that her developmentally disabled niece calls home.

The debris – largely from dirt that has been piled next to her fence by workers – plugged exterior drains, and the water “broke through and filled up two feet,” Henry said.

“I had to call the fire department in. It was a nightmare.”

Damage was assessed at $15,000 – Henry’s insurance deductible is $1,000 – and work to disinfect and replace affected flooring got underway. Her garage door is still to be replaced.

Henry, who bought her home nine years ago, said the incident was the first time any issues have arisen. She said part of the problem is the developer was allowed to build the lot up, but wasn’t made to erect a retaining wall between the two properties, or provide for drainage.

Now, with any rainfall, mud and water comes through her fence, spreads across her walkway and pools at the base of her concrete stairwell.

This week, Henry said, she returned home Monday evening just in time to stop mud and debris from once again clogging her exterior drains and causing a flood.

Henry said her appeals for answers have been largely ignored, and that her requests for steps to alleviate the problem have resulted in temporary measures that only exacerbate the situation.

Mayor Wayne Baldwin told Henry he looked at the area last month, and he was assured by staff that a “rain curb” should alleviate the runoff into her property until a driveway can be built.

Last week, director of engineering Greg St. Louis was confident that particular issue has been addressed.

“I was out there during the rain to make sure everything was running OK,” he told Peace Arch News. “I explained there’s no problem with the road drainage.”

A temporary trench dug along the under-construction property’s north-south fence line was anticipated to alleviate further concerns with water run-off, St. Louis said.

Richard Wilson, the city’s senior building official, told PAN the city is working with the developer “to mitigate any further issues.” He said the Oct. 5 events caught the developer off-guard, and believes construction-related defoliation of the formerly grassed and landscaped front yard played a large role in it.

Wilson said the developer has been “put on point that water can’t be drained onto the neighbour’s property,” and has committed to “make good” with the damage to Henry’s fence. Temporary downspouts installed on the triplex were also expected to help.

Wilson described what happened as “pretty unusual.”

“We don’t really have a lot of water issues from construction sites,” he said. “I think it was a whole bunch of situations coming together and suddenly there was this big problem.”

But Henry said more should have been done in the wake of the first flood.

“The day that happened, they should’ve put in proper drainage and they still haven’t,” she said. “Nobody’s taking responsibility.”

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