The primary issue in this case was whether a property owner who was not the “spiller” of chemicals could be liable for the migration of the contaminants onto a neighbouring property where it had knowledge of and allowed the migration to continue. The plaintiff was the former owner of a commercial property in Ottawa. It argued that its former property was contaminated by the migration of chemicals from a dry cleaning business that historically operated on the neighbouring property. The defendant property owner purchased the property in 2007, long after the chemicals were deposited and began migrating. The defendant became aware of the existence of the chemicals in 2010 but took no steps to stop the migration.
Justice Ryan Bell found the defendant liable to the plaintiff in nuisance and negligence. She found that the defendant had knowledge of the contaminant migration issue, allowed the migration to continue, failed to take any steps to address the migration within a reasonable period of time, and that its conduct resulted in increased environmental contamination to the plaintiff’s property. The plaintiff was awarded $1.2 million for the diminution in the market value of the property.