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City to compensate residents for damage done by brown water

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Brown water fills a bathroom sink in a Winnipeg home in the St. John's neighbourhood in the North End on Sept. 1, 2013.

ADAM WAZNY / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Brown water fills a bathroom sink in a Winnipeg home in the St. John's neighbourhood in the North End on Sept. 1, 2013. Photo Store

Winnipeg residents whose clothing and linens have been ruined by washing in brown water this summer can expect to receive compensation.

Mayor Katz and his executive policy committee this morning unanimously supported a motion by Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) to instruct the city’s claims department to compensate all legitimate claims for damages caused by washing in brown water.

Vandal said he’s been telling residents to file for compensation for damaged laundry from brown water and was shocked by all claims to date have been rejected by city administration.

"Those that have suffered legitimate damages, we should be paying them," Vandal said following the EPC meeting.

The civic claims department has rejected more than 50 claims for brown water damage, relying on the City of Winnipeg Charter which states that the city cannot be held liable for any water claims so long as the water is safe to drink.

The city has endured a doubling in the number of complaints of brown water coming from household taps this year, a situation which civic officials have not been able to explain and unable to resolve.

The motion goes to city council next week, where Vandal expects it will also be passed.

Mayor Katz said he was disappointed to learn that the claims were automatically being rejected, adding that has to stop and claims be given serious consideration.

"I was very perturbed to find out it was just an automatic reject based on the (City of Winnipeg) Charter," Katz said. "I told Coun. Vandal as well as the administration you have to use some common sense and logic and fairness.

"If there is a legitimate claim and they can prove it, you can’t just reject it that way."

Vandal said he expects the city to reconsider the claims that have already been rejected, with the aim of offering compensation.

Katz said compensating those affected this year is the first step, adding he expects an explanation for the brown water to be found and steps taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Katz said regardless of the cost, "we do it."

"Every single person expects to turn on their taps and have wonderful, clean refreshing water," Katz said. "The (water and waste) utility will have to do whatever has to be done to get it done. End of story."

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

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