City of Winnipeg again denies responsibility for injuries in Fort Gibraltar walkway collapse

The City of Winnipeg and the Festival du Voyageur are again asking the courts to dismiss claims against them connected to the collapse of a walkway at Fort Gibraltar last year.

On May 31, 2023, an elevated walkway collapsed during a St. John’s-Ravenscourt School trip, sending 17 children and one adult to hospital after they fell about six metres.

Three separate lawsuits have been filed associated with the collapse.

The first lawsuit was filed by parents who allege their son may be “at risk of a permanent disability” because of what happened.

The city, which owns Whittier Park — where Fort Gibraltar is located — and Festival du Voyageur, which manages the site, both filed similar statements of defence last year in response to the first claim.

Another claim was brought to court by parents who say their child fractured his left arm and may never recover from his injuries.

Teacher Angelina Constantine also filed a lawsuit, saying her spine was fractured and her neck and right foot were injured.

Constantine’s statement of claim alleges the city and Festival du Voyageur failed to make sure the structure was maintained properly, and that the city didn’t ensure it was properly designed and built.

None of the lawsuits’ allegations have been proven in court.

In two statements of defence filed earlier this month, the city disputes claims by plaintiffs in the more recent suits, who accuse it of negligence in relation to the incident at the replica wooden fort in the city’s St. Boniface neighbourhood.

The festival filed statements of defence in those two lawsuits as well, in February and May.

In its statements of defence, the city says while it owns Whittier Park, it was not in “physical possession of the land and structures on the property” and was neither responsible for it nor had control over its condition.

The city denies it ought to have known the walkway was unsafe.

It says it has no knowledge of the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries and that if they did suffer any loss or damage, that would be “the result of the actions of other parties for whom the City of Winnipeg is not legally responsible.”

In response to the first case, which was filed in August, the city and festival similarly denied responsibility for the injuries.

Festival du Voyageur filed similar statements of defence in all three cases that denied responsibility for any injuries.