Muskoka floods lead to massive lawsuit against Ontario government

The lawsuit alleges that the government failed to properly manage water levels and was negligent.
The lawsuit alleges that the government failed to properly manage water levels and was negligent. (Photo: Muskoka411.com/Susan O'Connor)

Property owners and residents who live on Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, and Lake Joseph in Muskoka, Ontario have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Ontario government over flooding caused by high water levels and drifting ice.

The flooding damaged not only the properties themselves but also boat houses and docks, which required extensive and pricey repairs.

The lawsuit alleges that the government failed to properly manage water levels and was negligent. The statement of claim reads, "Ontario’s failure to draw down the water levels and or effectively manage the water levels resulted in abnormally high water levels and flood situations on the Muskoka Lakes in March and April 2016." The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry is the government ministry responsible for controlling water levels in the lakes.

The government’s response? We can’t control the weather.

We are sympathetic to those who’ve had damage to their homes and property as a result of spring flooding. However, despite our best efforts to forecast, prepare for and manage flooding, it’s important to remember these events are caused by severe weather conditions out of our control”, the government responded in a statement last week.

The problem for Muskoka residents is that home insurance usually does not cover flooding because they’re seen as acts of God, beyond our control.

In Canada insurance companies don’t call natural disasters acts of God. Rather, they simply call such situations “perils” and outline what is excluded.

Floods are the types of perils that are excluded from coverage under most home insurance policies, although “common” perils, such as damaging winds, hail, and fire are usually covered.

As a result of the flooding being excluded, these residents are left holding the bag for the repairs.

In addition to monetary compensation, the lawsuit is also seeking a judge’s order to force the government to address the issue and maintain safe water levels in the future.

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