Penticton Mayor Andrew Jakubeit said it doesn’t matter whether a recent slip and fall lawsuit triggered a new city policy on sidewalks.
On Oct. 9 Cranbrook resident Sharon Waurynchuk filed a lawsuit against the City of Penticton for injuries she received while in Penticton in August, including a fractured wrist and multiple bruises to face and body.
The cause of the injuries, according to Waurynchuk’s suit, was a fall in a pothole and she alleges that she fractured her left wrist and received bruises to her face and other body parts after falling in a pothole crossing Main Street near Westminster Avenue.
Jakubeit said the new policy wasn’t pitched to city council as being connected to Waurynchuk’s suit.
“Whether that was discovered because of due diligence in getting ready for a court case, or just due diligence in general it is probably irrelevant,” said Jakubeit, adding that while he didn’t have statistics available on how many claims are made against the city for trip and falls on sidewalks or on the streets, Waurynchuk’s suit wasn’t the first.
“Everything gets handled provincially through the Municipal Insurance Authority,” said Jakubeit. “Quite often when a claim is initiated it goes to our municipal insurance authority and they handle it. All municipalities belong to that insurance group.
“They deal with the legal case or the other insurance adjusters.”
According to Len Robson, the city’s public works manager, the policy is based on past operational procedures for inspection and maintenance of the city’s 130 kilometres of public sidewalks and 17 km of walkways.
Under the new policy, high foot traffic areas will be inspected and maintained annually, with the rest being inspected at least once every five years.
“The policy has been reviewed by the City’s insurer, the Municipal Insurance Association of BC, and the City of Penticton’s Risk Management Committee,” reads Robson’s report.
“We are just putting in policy what our normal practice is. From a risk management point of view, we needed to have that formally ratified in relation to sidewalks,” said Jakubeit, adding that council expects to continue these housekeeping measures of updated policies and bringing new ones in over the next few months.
“We should have a policy in place, and ensure that if there are problems with sidewalks that are discovered that they are acted on immediately or in a very timely fashion,” said Jakubeit.
At press time, Waurynchuk had not responded to request for comment.