Parents of child injured in Fort Gibraltar collapse suing City of Winnipeg, site operator

The parents of a boy, who fell off a platform at Winnipeg’s Fort Gibraltar site during a class field trip, are suing both the City of Winnipeg and Festival du Voyageur for damages. Alex Karpa reports.

The parents of a child who fell from a platform at a historic site three months ago have filed a lawsuit for damages.

Seventeen children and one adult were injured when a wooden structure gave way at Fort Gibraltar, a popular tourist attraction and venue in Winnipeg, during a class field trip.

BACKGROUND: Winnipeg’s Fort Gibraltar field trip incident 

The parents are suing the City of Winnipeg and Festival du Voyageur, the organization that runs the site.

“While of course we are hoping for a full recovery, it is possible that the child will not be able to walk without disability for the rest of his life and further surgery will likely be required,” said Troy Hardwood-Jones, one of the lawyers representing the parents in the lawsuit.

The statement of claim, filed Aug. 11, alleges the child fell approximately 20 feet to the ground, sustaining significant injuries, including a left hip fracture and a right wrist fracture. According to court documents obtained by CityNews, the child is at risk of permanent disability.

In addition to the physical injuries, the claim also alleges the child endured psychological trauma, anxiety, and a fear of heights.

“We will have to see if he recovers and makes a full recovery, or if he has sustained permanent harm,” said Hardwood-Jones of PKF Lawyers.

WATCH: School field trip at Fort Gibraltar results in injuries

Last inspection 17 years ago

The 18 injured from St. John’s-Ravenscourt were taken to hospital after the elevated walkway collapsed. The students involved were 10- and 11-year-olds.

Festival du Voyageur built the replica Fort Gibraltar site in 1978 on city-owned land. The court documents allege the elevated walkways were last repaired in 2004 and last inspected in 2006.

The lawsuit is accusing both parties of negligence by “failing to remediate a hazardous condition.”

Hardwood-Jones says the City of Winnipeg and Festival du Voyageur breached their duties.

“The city and Festival du Voyageur failed in their duty to provide a safe stability to not only our family’s child, but the other children as well,” he said. “Honestly, I can’t really see how they can reasonably deny that they had liabilities for the child’s injuries.”

Structure at Fort Gibraltar in Winnipeg May 31, 2023. (Steve Anderson/CityNews)

City of Winnipeg spokesperson Kalen Qually confirmed to CityNews the city has been served with the statement of claim, but was not able to provide further comment.

CityNews also reached out to Festival du Voyageur but did not immediately hear back.

RELATED: Winnipeg workers inspecting site where 18 injured during school field trip

Harwood-Jones says the city, which owns and leases out the land, and Festival du Voyageur, which operates the site, have yet to file statements of defence. The parents are seeking punitive, general, and special damages, in an amount to be determined at a trial.

“Our clients are not interested in litigation,” said Hardwood-Jones. “They are not interested in proceeding the trial. However, the family needs to secure the child’s future, by ensuring that the child has the resources to live a full life as possible and to prevent this from happening to other families in the future.”

Harwood-Jones says he has not been approached by other families involved in the accident.

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