Should the city pay for pothole damage to your car? The opposition thinks so
The opposition at city hall is pushing for Montreal to be held to a higher standard for maintaining roads.
Ensemble Montreal wants to see a change to the Quebec Cities and Towns Act: under the current rules, a city is not liable for damage to a vehicle's tires and suspension caused by a pothole.
The party wants the law modified to correct that.
“Let's get rid of that exemption. Let's not have that privilege that no other party in society has and let's be accountable to the population,” said opposition leader Lionel Perez.
Ensemble Montreal will table a motion on the matter at the next city council meeting in hopes of asking the Quebec government to change the law.
“That's going to create pressure on elected officials to be able to say that we shouldn't be wasting that amount of money with claims, we should be investing it in improving the roads,” said Perez. “With this kind of pressure, it'll force the cities and in Montreal, in particular, to invest more in preventative maintenance.”
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante isn't convinced and said the opposition couldn't say what that plan will cost.
“If there's no price tag attached to this, what does this mean for me? Do I have to cut in other programs? Choices need to be made,” she said. “I need to have more information, so at this point, this motion is pretty empty.”
Winning a case against the city takes a lot of work because a plaintiff needs to prove gross negligence, explained SOS Ticket lawyer Frederique Bosse.
“That someone, for example, gave notice to the city that this pothole was improperly fixed and they can prove the city took knowledge of that notice and then did nothing about it,” said Bosse, adding that a plaintiff also would need solid evidence.
“You need testimony, you need physical evidence, pictures,” said Bosse. “In any civil suit, you need three things: you need fault, you need cause, and you need prejudice.”
But damage caused by roads is certainly not uncommon in Montreal – just ask the mechanics at Joe & Ralph Auto. They see pothole damage every day.
“Today we have at least two cars that are pothole-related with tire and wheel damage,” said Adriano Colafabio, adding that it can lead to a hefty bill.
“It can range up to $2000. We've had some serious repairs because of our roads,” he said.