Houseboat owners get $5K in wake of 2012 Shuswap flood that led to lawsuits, receivership

Another legal chapter was added this week in the long and somber story of a houseboat company in B.C.’s Southern Interior that was forced into receivership because of flooding.

In 2012, Waterway Houseboats and Vinco Holdings of Sicamous suffered a serious financial blow when flooding damaged their waterfront property on Mara Lake.

Waterway and Vinco wound up suing the province, the District of Sicamous and a local couple, asking for $10 million for property damage and business losses.

However, they were awarded just $2 million, and on June 11, 2019, the court placed the houseboat company into receivership despite objections from Waterway and Vinco.

Notably, the insolvency trustee company that handled the receivership said the houseboat company had $13.331 million in assets, but owed $13.392 million to creditors.

On Tuesday, May 12, a B.C. Supreme Court justice issued supplemental reasons for judgment against Waterway and Vinco.

“The majority of the houseboats in Waterway’s fleet were owned by individual houseboat owners (IHO). In total, there are currently 63 such owners,” wrote Justice G.P. Weatherill.

In April 2019, Weatherill said he granted judgment in favour of the plaintiffs against the various defendants, but that an appeal of the judgment was to be heard on June 17, 2020.

But on April 29, 2020, Weatherrill said he received a letter from counsel representing 45 of the houseboat owners that they had reached a settlement.

Weatherill noted that attempts have been made to reach the remaining 18 houseboat owners, but that none have objected, commented or taken a position on the settlement request.

At day’s end, Weatherill calculated that each houseboat owner will receive just over $5,000 – $335,353.13 divided by the 63 houseboat owners.

“The nature of Waterway’s business makes it extremely difficult to predict what business would have looked like but for the 2012 flood,” Weatherill wrote.

“There are simply too many economic factors and other unknowns to say with precision what the financial impact of the 2012 flood was. An assessment of past and future loss of earnings is therefore required.

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