Skip to content

Alberta town ponders road maintenance policy change after City of Calgary found liable in deadly car crash

If town is aware of a priority one road issue that doesn't get rectified, it is liable in full according to the courts now, says Olds CAO
mvt Town of olds office
File photo/MVP Staff

OLDS — A legal decision involving a fatal road collision in Calgary means the Town of Olds will have to be “much more diligent” in how it maintains infrastructure, chief administrative officer Brent Williams says.

Williams made that statement on March 4 as town council, meeting as committee of the whole, received an update from administrative staff about an upcoming revamped road maintenance policy.

A Court of Appeal decision in the Calgary court case, known as Pyke v Calgary (City), 2023, came down late last fall.

The Court of Appeal agreed with a judge who found the city liable in a case in which in 2014, a vehicle on a city roadway lost control and flipped over a barrier into another vehicle, killing one person and injuring three others.

It was alleged that a contributing factor in that accident was that gravel, dirt and snow had piled up along the median adjacent to the barrier, thereby in effect reducing the height of that barrier.

The city argued that a section of the Municipal Government Act exempts it from liability. The judge said that provision doesn’t apply to roads and other public places.

The city appealed, but the Court of Appeal agreed with the judge.

Coun. Darren Wilson asked how that decision might affect the Town of Olds. He wondered if it could affect budgetary decisions and decisions on service levels the municipality provides in the future.

“If we’re aware of a priority 1 issue that we don’t rectify, we are liable in full according to the courts now,” Williams said.

He said before the court decision, “there was a much larger grey area for municipalities to rely upon; you know, ‘we weren’t aware, therefore we’re not liable.’

“So I believe where that will come into play, I don’t want to use the words ‘slush funds’ or ‘unbudgeted funds,’ but we will have to be much more diligent in how we correct these issues – budgeted or not – just to protect the municipality.”

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks