Lower section of Cascade Falls, taken at near-peak river level for 2020. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Lower section of Cascade Falls, taken at near-peak river level for 2020. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

B.C. ordered to pay family of tubing accident victim $150K

Andrew Barrie and two others died in 2012 after they went over Cascade Falls while tubing

Eight years after her husband died in a tubing accident that took him and two others to their deaths at Cascade Falls near Christina Lake, Carol Barrie will finally receive some court-ordered financial compensation from the government of British Columbia, which a judge has found to have dragged its feet since she first filed a civil suit against the province in 2014.

In an April 9, 2020 ruling, Justice Joel Groves of the Supreme Court of British Columbia ordered the province of B.C. to pay Barrie $150,000 to partially compensate her for provable loss and for legal fees spent thus far, as the province has repeatedly forced trial dates to be postponed.

Barrie’s husband Andrew and Christina Lake residents Ronald and Jacqueline Legare died on July 28, 2012, when they were tubing with a larger group down the Kettle River from Gilpin Grasslands Provincial Park. Barrie’s son first reportedly saw the Legares get swept away near the Great Trail’s trestle bridge at Cascade, before managing to save himself and his mother. Andrew Barrie’s body was recovered from the river seven days later, approximately a kilometre downstream.

Barrie’s initial suit, filed on behalf of herself and her children, names as defendants the province, the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB), the City of Grand Forks, as well as the Legare estate and fellow tubers Scott MacNeill, Kathy MacNeill, Jacqueline MacNeill and Jamie MacNeill, whom Barrie’s claim alleges should have known of the danger of Cascade Falls. Nevertheless, the court determined in January that liability lays with the province.

Barrie’s suit argues that the province ought to be responsible for warning signage along the Kettle River, leading up to dangerous sections such as Cascade Falls.

No trial in 10 years

The interim compensation, called a tort advance, was ordered by Groves in April to “partially compensate a plaintiff for their provable loss and is designed to ensure that the costs associated with a delay in having the matter effectively resolved are not too onerous for an aggrieved plaintiff.”

The case’s first trial date was set for 2016, but both parties agreed to postpone. Groves blamed the province’s inaction and mishandling of the evidence disclosure process for subsequent delays, in 2018 and more recently in April 2020.

Because B.C. appealed Groves’ January ruling that laid liability for the case on the province, April’s trial was cancelled too. Though Groves noted that COVID-19 pandemic would have delayed the April date anyways, because the province appealed in February, they are still on the hook, he said. The judge said that the matter would likely not come to trial again until 2022 – 10 years after Andrew Barrie and the Legares died.

Provincial delays pile up

In his April 9 ruling, Groves said that both the adjournments in 2018 and 2020 can be blamed on the conduct of the province. “Both relate to their failure to follow the Civil Rules in regards to disclosure of documents,” he wrote.

Before the 2018 trial date, the province apparently failed to offer a full disclosure of relevant documents, despite staff having twice sworn affidavits insisting that they had disclosed everything. In B.C., unlike some other jurisdictions, sworn affidavits of disclosure from parties aren’t necessary, but can be requested by a judge when they believe that “a party needs to be reminded of the significance of their obligation and needs to be reminded that consequences can flow from the failure of that obligation to disclose documents,” Groves wrote.

Barrie’s counsel was able to unearth more than 42,000 government documents deemed relevant to the case that were not shared by the province – many of which Groves said could be found in simple Google searches.

Beyond the documents, Barrie’s counsel also noted that the province offered a representative without sufficient knowledge to go through the discovery process. The provincial representative was from Recreation Sites and Trails BC (RSTBC), and reportedly said in his March 11, 2016 discovery session that “The [Barrie] incident on the river fell outside of our specific area of responsibility.” Instead, the RSTBC representative placed that responsibility on BC Parks.

Seeking compensation for six years of legal action, Barrie asked the court last summer to be awarded a $250,000 tort advance – approximately 30 per cent of what Andrew Barrie would have earned between 2012 and 2020. Groves had denied the request as recently as January, when it appeared that a trial was immanent. When the province appealed his January decision to lay liability at their feet, he re-evaluated.

From Barrie’s original ask for a $250,000 tort advance, Groves noted that “She described circumstances which I consider to be hardship, circumstances that she has faced since the loss of her husband and the loss of his income to support their family,” adding that the evidence in her case was “significant.”

Still, $250,000 is well above what is usually awarded in a tort advance, Groves explained in his April decision, before settling on the $150,000 figure. Groves said in his decision that the evidence he’s seen so far “suggests a quantified loss well in excess of the requested tort advance.”

Read more: Legare couple from Christina Lake deceased after Kettle River tubing accident

Read more: Family suing over drowning


@jensenedw
Jensen.edwards@grandforksgazette.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Grand Forkslawsuit

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Sandra Allison and Dr. Charmaine Enns joined school district senior staff for a virtual town hall meeting to address the latest COVID concerns in schools. Image, screenshot
No secondary cases in Comox Valley schools, say health officers

School district hosts virtual town hall to address recent COVID-19 cases in schools

One of the rescues at CATS - Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society’s new location on Knight Road in Comox. Photo by Erin Halushak
Feline rescue organization growing into new space

Cat Advocates Teaching & Saving Society opens new facility on Knight Road

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Neighbours have reached out to media on several occasions with complaints about the property

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Tentative COVID-19 vaccine site chosen in the Comox Valley

B.C. is moving into Phase 2 of its COVID-19 mass immunization plan

Cumberland is considering downtown densification proposals, and with that comes questions around parking, among other things. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Water bottling ban, parking key changes for Cumberland zoning

Bylaw on amendments still need adoption following March 2 hearing

VIDEO: Courtenay Nissan hosting YANA fundraiser

Courtenay Nissan is hosting a special YANA fundraiser all weekend long, from… Continue reading

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

Burnaby Mounties responded to 56 complaints and issued 10 tickets to people flouting COVID-19 restrictions in February. (Patrick Davies/100 Mile Free Press)
COVID denier fined $2,300 for hosting gathering in her home: Burnaby RCMP

The woman told Mounties she does not believe the pandemic is real

Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne speaks in the B.C. legislature, March 4, 2021. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals, NDP sing in harmony on local election reforms

Bill regulates paid canvassers, allows people in condo buildings

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

The Courtenay Fire Department hopes to start a new recruit training program in mid-2021, pending Provincial Health Orders. Scott Stanfield photo
Courtenay Fire Department gets creative

Due to public health orders resulting from COVID, the Courtenay Fire Department… Continue reading

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Most Read