Winnipeggers whose laundry was damaged by brown water are a step closer to getting compensation from the city.
A motion, presented Wednesday by Coun. Dan Vandal at a meeting of the executive policy committee, asks the city's claims department to do "all things necessary to reimburse legitimate laundry damage."
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It passed almost immediately.
It must now go to administration for a report on what, if anything can be done. Then it will go to city council for a final vote.
Brown water claims
To date, the city has received 83 brown-water related claims.
57 of those claims were made for damaged laundry. Others included requests for reimbursement for things like bottled water purchases.
So far, none of those claims have been awarded, and 38 of them remain under investigation. 31 of those 38 claims under investigation are for damaged laundry.
More than 1,300 complaints have been received by the city about the water problem.
More than 50 people had filed claims for ruined clothes and bedding but they were rejected because of the Winnipeg Charter, which states the city is not liable for damages caused by the quality or content of water unless it doesn't meet standards of purity under provincial regulations respecting health.
In other words, the water has to be undrinkable before the city will pay out any claims for damage to laundry. Tests have approved the water as potable but officials aren't sure yet what's causing it to be brown.
Vandal hopes administrators don't have to change the charter to be able to compensate people. That would be a long, drawn-out process.
"In my discussions with several people, they have said there are extenuating circumstances that allows [people] to make special claims. And I think the brown water situation falls into that," he said.
Still, Winnipegger Mike Jones is hoping the movement at city hall means he’s more likely to get compensated for his damaged laundry.
Last year, Jones filed a claim for over $750 worth of damaged laundry. He was denied.
“I wish my complaints last year didn’t fall on deaf ears and weren’t taken light heartedly by many people, as being an isolated incident, where it really wasn’t,” said Jones.
He added, "I am happy that the city is acknowledging there is a problem and is trying to do something constructive about it."
Mayor Sam Katz himself said he was shocked to hear the city was automatically rejecting claims.
“You’ve got to use some common sense, logic and fairness,” he said. “[I was] very perturbed to find out that it was just an automatic reject based on the charter.”
Jones will now resubmit his claim to the city.