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Grand Forks residents suing province, logging companies on behalf of 2018 flood victims

Lawsuit alleges B.C’s forest ministry and logging companies contributed significantly to devastating freshet

A small group of Grand Forks residents is suing British Columbia’s forest ministry and some of the province’s biggest logging companies for damages on behalf city residents whose homes and properties were flooded in the 2018 freshet.

READ MORE: 5 things to know about the B.C. floods of 2018

READ MORE: Governments announced $53 million in Grand Forks flood recovery

The plaintiffs filed their action as part of a class-action lawsuit in July, according to Supreme Court documents.

In their statement of claim, Jaime Massey, Jennifer Houghton, and the executrixes of a city family’s estate allege that the ministry allowed unsustainable logging in the province’s Interior based on an overestimation of government-approved harvests made available to logging companies named as defendants in the suit.

The plaintiffs claim that several forest clear-cuts by defendants Interfor Corp., Weyerhauser Co., Ltd., and Tolko Industries exceeded the 40 hectares allowed by the ministry’s chief forester, whose office determines how much timber can be cut from B.C. forests every year.

The logging companies are alleged to have made too many clear-cuts above the snow line which left massive snowpacks rapidly melting in the spring sun and, especially, rain.

The plaintiffs argue that the province’s road network, which logging companies use to truck timber and processed lumber, has grown to the point where roads funnel spring deluges like the one that hit Grand Forks.

The plaintiffs are asking the Supreme Court to recognize them as a class that can collect damages from the defendants on behalf of themselves and everyone in Grand Forks and surround area whose properties were damaged or destroyed in the 2018 freshet.

The plaintiffs are also suing the Osoyoos Indian Band, two Nk’Mip logging companies, and the B.C. pulp firm, Mercer Celgar Pulp, Ltd.

None of the allegations have been tested in court and a response to the lawsuit has yet to be filed as of Friday, Sept. 18.


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