Lawsuit of the week: Greater Vancouver Water District failed to heed warnings about tree that fell and killed Port Moody woman, suit claims

The relatives of a woman killed by a tree that uprooted and fell through her home’s roof are suing the Greater Vancouver Water District (GVWD) and VanArbor Vegetation Consulting Ltd. for allegedly failing to properly maintain the tree or heed warnings about its dangerous state of decay.

The relatives of a woman killed by a tree that uprooted and fell through her home’s roof are suing the Greater Vancouver Water District (GVWD) and VanArbor Vegetation Consulting Ltd. for allegedly failing to properly maintain the tree or heed warnings about its dangerous state of decay.

Kenneth and James Calder filed a notice of civil claim in BC Supreme Court on March 6, naming the GVWD, VanArbor, arborist Kenneth Mark Bell and two unknown defendants.

The Calders claim the GVWD owns a parcel of land near their parents’ home in Port Moody, upon which stood a 115-foot hemlock tree. Years before their mother was killed, five or six trees had fallen on the lands, including the limb of a tree that damaged their property.

“The plaintiffs’ father notified GVWD about the prior incident and expressed his concern about the integrity of the remaining trees adjacent to the property,” the claim states. “In or around 2012 or 2013, the plaintiffs’ father notified GVWD that the hemlock displayed signs of declining health.”

The defendants allegedly knew that the tree was rotten and would be “catastrophic” if it fell onto the plaintiffs’ parents’ property.

“Apart from marking the hemlock, the defendants failed to take any steps to address any of the risks posed by the hemlock,” the claim states.

In March 2016, a windstorm caused the hemlock to uproot and fall, crashing through the roof and killing Jill Calder while she slept.

“The incident was caused or contributed to by the defendants’ failure to address, remediate, monitor, remove or otherwise maintain the hemlock which the defendants knew or ought to have known was in poor health and condition and posed an unreasonable risk of harm to the property and persons on the property,” the plaintiffs claim.

The plaintiffs seek damages for negligence and nuisance. The allegations have not been tested or proven in court, and the defendants had not responded to the claim by press time.