Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Plan to add to payouts approved

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City hall will expand the number of property owners reimbursed for pipe-thawing services.

The plan to include all affected property owners who were billed $305 back to Dec. 1 was approved unanimously by council at its meeting Wednesday.

A running tab on frozen lines

City hall added another 936 properties late Wednesday to the list of those at risk for possible waterline freezing.

That brings the total number of at-risk properties to 7,248.

The city, citing privacy concerns, did not say where the additional properties are located, but the bulk of them were previously known to be located in parts of River Heights, Fort Rouge and the North End.

The properties at risk -- along with those with a temporary connection and those where full service has been restored -- are advised to run a cold-water tap 24/7 until further notice.

-- 2,217 -- Number of properties reporting frozen waterlines since November, an increase of 23 between Tuesday and Wednesday.

-- 859 -- Number of properties where full water service has been restored, an increase of 14 from Tuesday to Wednesday.

-- 1,358 -- Number of properties on the waiting list for thawing services, an increase of nine from the day before.

-- 677 -- Number of properties with city-installed temporary water service, an increase of 20 between Tuesday and Wednesday.

-- 681 -- Number of properties without either full or temporary water service, a decline of 11 between Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

"The key thing was to do what's fair and what's right," Mayor Sam Katz told councillors. "We are definitely doing the right thing."

The move reflects a policy change for city hall -- absorbing costs for work done on private property.

Katz said the change was necessary after administration decided to stop billing property owners for the work effective Feb. 28, adding the only issue councillors had to decide was how many others should be included.

The motion also included reimbursing those property owners who hired private contractors to do the work but capped the payment at the same $305.

The policy change came following mounting pressure on councillors after the water and waste department decided in early March to stop billing for thawing on private property effective Feb. 28.

This winter's frigid temperatures are being blamed for the unprecedented number of properties with frozen waterlines, where the frost penetrated to almost three metres underground.

There was overwhelming support on council to instruct administration to prepare an application to the province for financial aid because of frozen pipes.

Katz estimated the city's total cost for the issue could range between $3 million and $5 million, adding the city should take advantage of any financial assistance available.

Only Couns. Justin Swandel and Scott Fielding opposed seeking financial assistance, explaining it was premature until the city's final expenses were tallied.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 27, 2014 B2

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