Taxpayers can pay a total bill of nearly $200 million for the April 2019 floods caused by the breakwater in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac.
The bill could be about 300 times the cost of repairing the dam before the disaster. Remember, a specialist recommended a $700,000 site in 2017, but Saint-Marthe-sur-le-Lac waited nearly a year before working on this report, we know.
To date, at least 37 lawsuits have been filed in court against the city and government of Quebec.
Those claiming compensation are mainly hundreds of flood-affected residents, but also insurance companies and dealers.
Screenshot, TVA News
They want a total of more than $45 million, according to court documents consulted by our FBI.
As of March 19, 2020, during the administration hearing, Judge Danielle Turcotte was clear in addressing the accused.
“Does anyone here think that victims have no right to compensation?” She asked.
Neither the city nor the government dared to say otherwise.
Currently, all parties agree that victims have suffered damages and must be paid.
But Saint-Marthe-sur-le-Lac and Quebec do not agree on who should pay. The city claims that the dam that gave way belongs to the government, which the latter denies.
On July 7, Judge Jean-François Michaud added the state as a defendant in the lawsuit, at the request of the City of Laurentians.
« [Québec] He announces significant costs and delays for an expert assessment to determine who owns the dam.”
In order for the victims’ salaries to be paid faster, their lawyers demanded that the issue of ownership of the dam be decided upon after determining the compensation amounts.
A hearing on this matter will be held on 11 November.
The lawsuit amounts are added to the $95 million already paid by the Ministry of Public Security, notably for temporary dam reinforcement and clean-up as well as certain monetary compensation.
Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac also invested $51.5 million for a lower wall to replace the dam and was completed in the summer of 2020.
So we came up with at least $192 million in potential costs related to the rupture of the dam.
“The dam dossier is very judicial, the city will not make any further comments while it has always acted seriously given the complexity of the ramifications of this dossier,” Mayor Sonia Paulos said in our office of inquiry.
The city of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac waited nearly a year before sending a report to Quebec that recommended strengthening work on the dam, before the disaster.
On November 24, 2017, the company Axio Environnement, which specializes in work on the development of beaches and banks, submitted a 67-page document to the city.
I proposed a $700,000 project, and estimated that a rupture would be “likely” in the event of a 100-year flood.
The report reads: “In the event of a rupture, the expected consequences would be severe as a residential area would be significantly affected.”
However, according to the documents we consulted, the city did not send the report to the Ministry of Environment until November 7, 2018, in order to obtain permission and funding to continue the work.
The file did not change in the following five months, and the dam dissolved on April 19, 2019.
In June 2019, after the floods, Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac publicly revealed the Axio Environnement report, when the media had already found out about its existence. The city has yet to specify the date on which it sent it to Quebec.
The neighboring municipality of Pointe Calumet is building a dam twice its length in Sainte-Mart-sur-le-Lac at a much lower cost.
The cost of a new installation to protect Lac des Deux Montagnes from rising waters in Pointe-Calumet is $29 million, compared to $51.5 million in Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac.
why ? Because Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac chose an installation one meter higher than its neighbour, which resulted in additional costs in infrastructure, materials and time.
This choice is at the heart of the legal process, as many Marthelacquois claim that their home has lost its value.
They claim that the low wall will block their view of the water and that the access road will encroach on their land.
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