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Class action certified against City of Abbotsford over catastrophic Sumas Prairie flooding

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A class action against the City of Abbotsford has been certified by B.C. Supreme Court for damage resulting from catastrophic flooding in the Sumas Prairie in 2021.

Slater Vecchio LLP confirmed the certification Wednesday, saying plaintiffs claim flooding happened because the city failed "to close the flood boxes at the Barrowtown Pump Station."

"This decision is a significant step forward to obtaining access to justice by allowing the plaintiffs' action to proceed to trial," said Anthony Vecchio, KC, partner of Slater Vecchio LLP, in a news release. "Individuals and businesses who suffered harm due to the flooding in the Sumas Prairie in November 2021 will be notified in due course regarding next steps in the class action."

None of the claims in the lawsuit have been proven in court. By certifying the class action, the court confirmed the lawsuit will be heard by a judge to determine whether a monetary award will be granted.

In 2021, the Sumas Prairie was devastated by flooding after a series of atmospheric rivers swept through the area.

"Crops were flooded, inventory was rendered unsalvageable, equipment was destroyed and thousands of animals were drowned, including chickens, cattle and other livestock. On top of that, personal residences were flooded, farms were devastated and a tight-knit community was decimated," a statement on Slater Vecchio's website says.

The class action against the City of Abbotsford claims the tragedy was "predictable, foreseeable and preventable," adding it aims to hold the city liable for its alleged role.

The City of Abbotsford told CTV News Vancouver in an email it "does not comment on active legal matters."

The class action says it represents anyone who was a resident in the Sumas Prairie between Nov. 14 and 16, 2021, and suffered personal injury or damage to property in that community as a result of flooding. 

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