Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Legion hall might close from lack of water

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General Sir Sam Steele Legion president Vi Bakrac is frustrated with the city.

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General Sir Sam Steele Legion president Vi Bakrac is frustrated with the city. Photo Store

A North End legion hall could close permanently after its water lines froze for the second time in two weeks.

Staff at the General Sir Sam Steele Legion showed up for work Wednesday morning and found they had no water.

Worse, city officials told them they'd have to wait two to three weeks to get their water lines thawed.

"There's no way we can stay in business after closing for 14 days," Mike Perkin, the legion's secretary, said.

Perkin said the legion, at the corner of Mountain Avenue and Salter Street, was forced to close two weeks ago when the water lines froze but was back in business after three days with the help of a neighbour, who allowed the city to connect a hose to her tap before the legion's own taps were thawed a week later.

"We were able to function minimally," Perkin said. "But she doesn't want to do it again because she didn't have enough water pressure to flush a toilet or take a shower. We need a lot of water, so I really can't blame her."

Vi Bakrac, the legion's president, said the hall will likely be closed a minimum of three weeks.

"We have bills to pay -- electricity, gas, security, garbage pickup," Bakrac said. "They all want to be paid on time, but we won't have any money."

Bakrac and Perkin said the legion, operating on a day-to-day basis, needs to take in $1,000 daily to break even.

The legion has no reserve funds or business-interruption insurance, they said, and would have to close permanently.

Bakrac said the legion's water supply has frozen in the past, adding it's a threat it faces every year.

"We have to keep our taps running every day from February to May, but we didn't get a warning from the city this year," she said.

She said she's frustrated that the city allows the situation to persist year after year without finding a solution.

"We can't keep going on like this," Bakrac said.

Perkin said he knows there are private contractors with electrical pipe-thawing equipment similar to the city's, but the city won't authorize the legion to hire them.

"That would cost us a minimum of $400 and more, depending on how long it takes," Perkin said. "The legion doesn't have that kind of money and the city won't reimburse our costs. It makes no sense."

City hall expects to provide an update later today on the number of properties without water because of frozen lines. The number of affected properties has doubled in the past week to more than 600 from fewer than 300.

 

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 6, 2014 A4

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