After an Irricana resident attempted to convince the Town of Irricana to help her fix yard issues stemming from a blocked stormwater draining system that went awry, she has chosen to move forward with a general claim lawsuit against the municipality.
The lawsuit, filed by Stephanie Katelnikoff, seeks reimbursement of $626.53, which is what she said she has spent dealing with the issue on her property, and any additional costs accrued during the legal process.
After deciding to put up a fence in her backyard in late June, the Irricana resident said she noticed a stormwater sewer pipe buried under mud and weeds.
“We found it while the fence was being built,” she recalled. “When it first got uncovered, I figured it was abandoned because it hadn’t been marked. Then it rained and water started coming out of it and my yard flooded.”
Katelnikoff called the Town and spoke to a foreman, who she said relayed had no idea there was a buried stormwater pipe on her property.
“I think maybe three weeks went by and it started raining a bit more,” she said. “There was more flooding, and nothing had happened. I made some more calls, the narrative changed.”
According to Katelnikoff, the Town’s perspective changed, with the municipality claiming the stormwater pipe and flooding issues were not their responsibility.
“It’s fine if that is the case – I haven’t actually seen anything in bylaws anywhere that says the Town is not responsible for the maintenance of it,” Katelnikoff said. “Even if, they have to enforce homeowner maintenance of it because the blockage isn’t on my property, but causing flooding on my property.”
Through her own research, she said she also learned the Town does not own the right of way for the buried pipe registered on her land title.
“I don’t know if the Town messed up, or if the developer messed up, I’m not sure,” she said.
After issues continued to arise, Katelnikoff said she capped the line on her end to stop the flooding in her yard. She said she proposed to the Town to hire a hydrovac service to deal with the flooding, but added she informed the municipality she wanted to be reimbursed because she feels the issue is a byproduct that stems from “its negligence in doing anything about the ongoing flooding in a timely fashion.”
“That is the first time [Irricana’s Chief Administrative Officer, Barrie Hutchinson] told me to get a lawyer if I expected to deal with this myself and get reimbursed,” she said.
Further conversations with the Town led to Katelnikoff warning that if they wouldn’t reimburse her for costs incurred capping the line, she would move forward with legal action.
“I also informed them at that time they don’t have the right of way for that pipe,” she said. “I told them we’d be willing to grant them the right of way contingent [on] a couple of things.”
One of those conditions was to extend the buried pipe to ensure safety, and putting up a temporary fence to ensure Katelnikoff’s dog would remain safe while work was being done. A memorandum of understanding was drafted in hopes of an amicable end on Katelnikoff’s part, but she claimed the memorandum was never signed by Hutchinson.
“They originally seemed interested, but there has been a month with no movement,” she said.
She also met with Town council on Sept. 7 to bring up the issue. She had hoped the appointment would end in a mutual beneficial agreement, so the issued could be dealt with once and for all.
The meeting ended without resolve, according to Katelnikoff. Another two weeks passed by with “radio silence” from the Town, which led to her finally filing her lawsuit.
“I am kind of baffled with the direction this has gone,” she said. “I’m baffled that somebody feels strongly enough about this to invest in legal fees to fight a lawsuit [over] $667.”
When reached for comment, Hutchinson said as of press time, the Town’s legal counsel has still not seen a statement of claim. He added with the matter currently in legal hands, he couldn’t provide further comment on the matter.