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B.C. couple claims bullying in neighbour lawn-watering dispute

Couple complained of yard flooding by uphill neighbour, who said "water goes downhill."
The Civil Resolution Tribunal has dismissed a small claims action involving lawn watering.

B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has dismissed a couple’s complaint about an allegedly bullying neighbour they claim floods their yard when she waters her garden.

Brian Cooper and Tatiana Nicoara told tribunal member Leah Volkers in their small claims action against Yvonne John that their property is always wet and muddy.

They claimed John was negligent and the water flowing onto their property was a nuisance. They sought $5,000 in damages.

John responded that she lives on higher ground and “water goes downhill.” Volkers said John’s property is higher than Cooper and Nicoara’s land.

The couple built a trench alongside their property to mitigate rainwater damage, according to the Feb 23 decision. However, they said when there is no rain, their trench is filled with water and mud overflowing from John's property when she waters her lawn.

Volkers said photographs and videos supplied by Cooper and Nicoara showed some water seepage along the edge of the parties’ adjoining property line, and between the fences, as well as some small amounts of water running onto their side of their fence and into their “rainfall drainage” trench.

“The photographs do not support the applicants’ contention that the trench fills with mud and water when the respondent waters her lawn,” Volkers said.

“I find the evidence does not show that any substantial water, or any mud, overflowed from the respondent’s property onto the applicants’ property,” Volkers said.

The tribunal noted “an upslope owner is generally not liable for water naturally flowing from their property unless they take positive steps to change the natural flow of water that interferes with another person’s property, or to accumulate and then release natural water.”

Volkers found Cooper and Nicoara proved neither nuisance nor negligence.

Meanwhile, in an application for dispute resolution, Cooper and Nicoara referred to “potential bullying.” They alleged John bullied one of them, which Volkers found to be an allegation of harassment.

But, with no recognized tort of harassment in B.C. and no claims for a remedy, Volkers made no findings on that issue.