City hall is considering moving families left without water for four weeks or longer because of frozen water pipes into hotels.
Mayor Sam Katz said the situation for those individuals must be truly unbearable and the city has to do more than just promise to give them a temporary water supply.
"I think this is a phenomenal hardship on people – you can’t cook for your family, you can’t shower... You can’t do anything of the things we all take for granted," Katz told reporters this morning.
"In my opinion, I think we’re extremely close (to covering hotel expenses) now."
Katz said he can’t imagine going without water at his home for weeks as many Winnipeggers have experienced.
"After four weeks, isn’t that enough?" Katz said.
"That’s something I do believe has to be considered."
Cost of providing hotels will be a factor in any discussion, Katz conceded, but added that has to be weighed against the circumstances.
"It’s easy for someone to say that’s not (the city’s) responsibility, this is an act of Mother Nature," Katz said. "If you were in that situation, what do you believe is reasonable and fair? We will have a discussion on that.
"No decision has been made but at some point in time you have to start considering that."
In the meantime, Katz said the city is concentrating its efforts on providing temporary water supplies to the more than 600 properties whose water lines are frozen because of the deep frost.
Katz said the city has ordered extra hoses from an Ontario manufacturer, adding the city is committed to speeding up the time it takes to connect a property to a neighbour to ensure a temporary a water supply can be provided.
"That’s what we’re focusing on right now," Katz said.
The number of properties without water because of frozen water lines has more than doubled in the past week, from less than 300 to over 600.
City officials expect those numbers to climb in the coming days, with no respite until May or June.
Katz said the city is testing a new electrical thawing device, smaller than the three in operation now, that it recently received.
Katz said the city has been unable to borrow equipment from other cold-weather municipalities because they are also in the same situation or worse.
"Anyone within reasonable proximity to us is having these similar problems," Katz said. "Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis – it’s happening everywhere."