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City of Vancouver suing Aquilini over library flood

Aquilini Construction built complex where flooded Kensington library located

Vancouver city hall is suing companies owned by Francesco Aquilini over flooding two years ago at the Kensington branch of the Vancouver Public Library.

Aquilini Construction built the King Edward Village mixed commercial and residential complex at 4000 Knight St. and a condition of the zoning was provision of space for a VPL branch. The city began a 30-year lease in 2009, but now claims landlord Aquilini is liable for an Oct. 25, 2010 flood of three to five inches at the library. Water had collected on Cedar Cottage Mews, overflowed the sidewalk curb and flooded the entire premises, said the statement of claim filed Oct. 25, 2012.

The lawsuit said the flood rendered the leased premises unsuitable for use as a library until the cleanup and repairs were complete. The city claims the flood was not caused by anything within its control.

The court filing says there was prior warning on Oct. 9, 2010 16 days before the flood when library staff noticed a significant amount of water collecting on Cedar Cottage Mews rising to nearly the height of the curb adjacent to the library.

The claim says library staff left two messages with the landlords property manager indicating that a problem with draining on Cedar Cottage Mews was occurring, but the city claimed neither the landlord nor any of the strata corporations named in the lawsuit took steps to investigate or fix the system.

The city says that the defendants were aware prior to the flood that the entrance to the Kensington Library was lower than the adjacent common property areas and prone to flooding if any problems with the catch basins or drainage of Cedar Cottage Mews occurred.

Cedar Cottage Mews has an elevated crosswalk feature which separates the two catch basins, a design feature that the statement of claim said materially increased the risk of flooding the Kensington Library and gives rise to a greater need to take care to perform frequent inspections and maintenance of the catch basins.

These catch basins were not constructed in accordance with the construction design details prepared by [civil engineer] InterCAD. As a result, the sump below each catch basin grate is inadequately sized and cannot manage a significant amount of silt or debris which increases the potential to clog the pipe and cause flooding if frequent inspection and maintenance is not performed to ensure that leaves and dirt are cleaned away from the outlet pipe in the catch basin, said the citys filing.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Francesco Aquilini is not specifically named as a defendant, but in the claim he is called the operating mind behind each of Tri Power Developments, Tri Power Developments LP, Aquilini Construction and the landlord.

Other defendants include Stantec and Ocean Park Mechanical.