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Class-Action Lawsuit launched against Intact

Frustration continues for former residents of community wiped off map by flood

Seventeen former residents of an Alberta golf resort destroyed by flooding two years ago have launched a class-action lawsuit against Intact Insurance.

There’s little left of the resort east of Calgary, and its road is now closed to the general public.

A small trailer and a steel gate block the road that was once the entrance to Hidden Valley, which contained about 300 homes located on the Siksika First Nation, about 100 kilometres east of Calgary. A sign by Health Canada warns “Buildings at Hidden Valley Resort are unfit for human habitation.”

Hidden Valley’s website includes only this message: “Hidden Valley was unfortunately completely decimated by the ”2013 FLOOD and no longer exists.”

The homes belonged to the residents but the land was leased from Siksika First Nation. Siksika cancelled the lease after the flood, which saw about 1,000 residents of the reserve leave their homes as the Bow River overflowed.

While Siksika received $93 million in flood relief, none flowed to people living in Hidden Valley nor did any money from the Alberta government’s disaster relief program, which didn’t cover homes not considered “primary residences.”

The lawsuit seeks damages from Intact Insurance for not paying out on damage caused by sewer backup.

Lawyer Clint Docken, who is representing the residents, says all insurance companies paid out for sewage damage except Intact.

“It seems that of all the insurers, the one insurer that has taken a position contrary to the interests of their insurers is Intact. It seems to have been a corporate decision that they were not going to compensate flood victims,” Docken said.

An official with Intact Insurance wouldn’t comment on specific cases.

“For several months we had a team of Intact Insurance employees working around the clock to help affected customers in southern Alberta communities,” Pascal Dessureault, director of communications and public affairs wrote in an email.

Dessureault said Intact has paid out more than $200 million in flood-related claims.

“Following a careful and thorough review, a small number of customers did not have coverage under their policies. With respect to our customers, it is our policy not to comment on their individual circumstances.”

“It doesn’t bring back great memories. We’ve lost an entire lifestyle, not to mention the financial side of it,” said Jack Kushner of Calgary, one of the former residents of the resort that have filed the lawsuit against Intact. “I know a lot of families that it was their principal residence.”

Docken said there are efforts being made in receiving some overdue compensation from both the Alberta government and Siksika First Nation.

Kushner said it was three weeks after the flooding that residents were finally able to get a look at their homes.

He said their two-story home was uninhabitable.

“It was a nice property, no doubt about it,” Kushner said. “We feel we’ve been unfairly dealt with, to be honest.”