January 19, 2019

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Less snow-clearing leads to fewer damage claims

The number of snow-clearing damage claims filed against the City of Winnipeg and its contractors fell dramatically during the 2017-18 winter season, down to the second-lowest in the past five years.

Between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018, the city received 254 claims from Winnipeggers who said their property or vehicles were damaged during snow-clearing operations.

That was down from 665 such claims during the 2016-17 snow-clearing season -- a decrease of 61 per cent.

However, the decline doesn't appear to have anything to do with changes the city has made in terms of how its staff -- and those they contract the work out to -- carry out the job.

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The number of snow-clearing damage claims filed against the City of Winnipeg and its contractors fell dramatically during the 2017-18 winter season, down to the second-lowest in the past five years.

Between Oct. 1, 2017, and Sept. 30, 2018, the city received 254 claims from Winnipeggers who said their property or vehicles were damaged during snow-clearing operations.

Click to Expand

Damage claims filed to City of Winnipeg during snow-removal season:

2013-14 – 1,124

2014-15 – 230

2015-16 – 371

2016-17 – 665

2017-18 – 254

That was down from 665 such claims during the 2016-17 snow-clearing season — a decrease of 61 per cent.

However, the decline doesn't appear to have anything to do with changes the city has made in terms of how its staff — and those they contract the work out to — carry out the job.

"The number of claims tends to be reflective of the amount of snowfall and weather conditions. In general, there is a correlation between the number of damage claims filed and the number of snow-clearing operations undertaken in the winter," a City of Winnipeg spokesman said in a written statement.

"To compare the last two years, there was only one residential street plowing operation required during the 2017-18 snow-clearing season, while the year prior involved two residential parking bans... plus ongoing snow-clearing throughout January 2017."

The worst season for such damage claims in recent years — according to city statistics provided to the Free Press — was 2013-14, when a total of 1,224 were filed.

An elm tree in Riverview was damaged by plows in 2013. (Joe Bryksa / Free Press files)

An elm tree in Riverview was damaged by plows in 2013. (Joe Bryksa / Free Press files)

The city spokesman said citizens are encouraged to report damage to vehicles to Manitoba Public Insurance and damage to property to their insurers, to see if there is coverage available to them. They are also advised to report claims to 311.

Even though the claims are reported to the city, it often isn't the city that ends up footing the bill, the spokesman said.

"The city frequently enters into contracts with private contractors to perform work on the city’s behalf. The city’s agreements with the contractors contain a requirement that the contractor take responsibility for their work and respond directly to claims for any damage," the spokesman said.

"If it is determined that a contractor had control over the accident location at the time loss or damage occurred, the city’s adjuster will forward the claim to the contractor for their investigation and handling."

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @rk_thorpe

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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