Lawsuit filed against designer of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac dike

Firefighters make their way through a flooded street on Friday, May 3, 2019 in Ste-Marthe-sur-la-Lac, Que. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The city of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac announced its insurer has filed a lawsuit against the firm Gendron Lefebvre, who was responsible for work carried out in the city in 1979 -- including the dike that broke in 2019

According to the lawsuit documents cited by city officials, those responsible for the work made significant mistakes in the design and construction of the dike – resulting in its eventual collapse and the ensuing evacuation of thousands of residents on about 50 streets in April 2019. 

Around 6,500 people had to abruptly leave their homes as the water quickly flooded the roads, and many houses were left significantly damaged.

The lawsuit stipulates that all the excavations, drilling and exploratory wells carried out after the rupture of the dike have revealed a hidden defect. Workers found a presence of organic matter, sand beds and a layer of debris in the embankment of the dike, specifically in the section where it broke. The lawsuit specifies that these non-compliant, permeable materials likely allowed water to gradually infiltrate, causing internal erosion that progressed over time due to seasonal pressure on the dike. 

The Mayor of Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac, Sonia Paulus, said she was disturbed by the findings. In her opinion, this is an important step in understanding why the dike gave out.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2020. 

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