Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trucks get hung up on wires

More phone lines knocked down since Emterra started

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Winnipeg's new waste collection system appears to have suffered another disconnect.

MTS officials have seen an upswing in the number of phone lines knocked down by garbage and recycling trucks in back lanes.

Selena Hinds, director of corporate communications for MTS Allstream, said garbage trucks pull down aerial cables from time to time, though these incidents have not occurred often over the years. Hinds said MTS Allstream has seen an increase in the number of aerial cables pulled down by trucks since Emterra began its collection service.

"We have sent the City of Winnipeg correspondence that outlines our concerns," Hinds said in an email. "We have also met with representatives from the City of Winnipeg and Emterra, and we continue to be in discussions with them on this topic."

MTS officials did not respond to further questions about how many phone lines have been knocked down by Emterra trucks and when MTS approached the city with its concerns.

City of Winnipeg spokeswoman Tammy Melesko said it would be inappropriate for the city to respond with third-party information.

The problem isn't isolated to phone lines.

Transcona resident Luc Parent said he had to shell out more than $2,100 in late January after an Emterra recycling truck ripped out the power line between his home and the main Hydro cable. Parent said Hydro is not responsible, since the damaged line is on Parent's property. He said Emterra has refused to reimburse him for the pricey repair, saying their truck caught the line because it was too low.

"They just drove off and they're not paying (for) anything," Parent said, noting it took him hours to find an electrical company able to do the repair to make sure he, his wife and infant had heat in -30 C temperatures.

"We have to fork over the bill for their mistake. I don't think that's fair," he said.

Melesko said the city is working with utility companies to clarify who is responsible to pay for damage to phone or power lines.

Emterra began garbage and recycling collection in the former AutoBin areas on Aug. 1 and from 165,000 households citywide in October.

Last month, city officials revealed the company has been fined as much as $450,000 for poor service since its grace period ended.

River Heights Coun. John Orlikow said phone lines have been knocked down by trucks twice in his ward, including an incident earlier this week behind Queenston and Brock streets and Kingsway and Grosvenor avenues. He said the problems have occurred in older parts of the neighbourhood where phone cables hang low and the recycling truck is too high.

Orlikow said the cables have been fixed and he has not received an overwhelming number of complaints about the matter.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 15, 2013 A3

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