Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Browaty wants complete waiving of thawed-line costs

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North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty said the city should waive the $305 fee assessed to all private landowners to thaw frozen water pipes.

Browaty said he was pleased the city has decided to waive the fee for thawing done on Feb. 28 or later but said it's unfair to those property owners who had to foot the bill before the situation developed into a full-blown emergency.

"Fairness is fairness," Browaty said. "I do think we should waive the $305 bill to anyone this winter, or at least back to the calendar year, that's had a frozen pipe."

City hall issued a clarification Tuesday about its policy change on waiving the $305 charge.

But later, civic officials released information that showed the situation is getting much worse: More properties found their lines frozen and the area at risk is spreading.

The city says there are now 996 properties waiting to have frozen water lines thawed, an increase of 69 from Monday.

There are also 5,447 properties at risk of frozen waterlines, an increase of 482 properties from the weekend. Officials advised letting a cold-water tap run 24 hours a day.

While the areas at risk are spreading, the city officials refused to disclose the locations of the new at-risk areas or in which parts of the city the new affected properties are located.

More homes are losing water service than the city is able to provide with temporary hookups. There are now 764 properties without regular or temporary water services, an increase from 710 properties reported Monday.

Another 15 homes were connected with temporary water services from a neighbouring property in the past 24 hours.

The policy change on waiving the $305 fee was prompted by the rapid increase in the number of frozen waterlines and the city's goal of restoring services as quickly as possible.

It usually took the city up to seven days to assign a crew to determine where the frozen line was located.

If the freeze was on city land, then the owner could make arrangements to get a temporary water service from a neighbour.

But with the focus now on providing a temporary water service, the city wants to eliminate that seven-day waiting period.

Now the city is assuming the freeze is on city property even if it isn't.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 12, 2014 A4

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