Editorial: Langford steps up

Langford’s heart is in the right place, but its leaders should be wary of setting precedents. The city is shelling out up to $10,000 to help people whose homes were flooded by a water-main break.

When a water main burst on Strathmore Road on Feb. 19, the flood devastated residents. Homes and possessions were damaged or ruined. One displaced resident was couch-surfing and had to sleep a night in his car. Repairs are likely to take months.

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For the residents, especially those without renters’ insurance, the financial hit can be crushing.

The Capital Regional District, which owns the water line, is not liable for the damage. The Local Government Act says the district can be held responsible only if its maintenance was negligent. Water mains burst from time to time.

Langford Mayor Stew Young said the municipality couldn’t stand by and do nothing. As much as $1,000 is available for people facing severe financial hardship. It won’t cover absentee owners or structural repairs.

Other municipalities will be watching with some discomfort. When a main failed in 2014 on Burnside Road West, nine million litres of water flowed through the neighbourhood. No government offered financial help.

There is a harsh lesson here about the value of renters’ insurance, especially for people with limited means. Find a way to afford it, because being caught without coverage can leave a family desperate.

Compassion for their plight is commendable, but municipalities that open the door to providing aid could discover that people will come to expect it.

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