Frozen pipes will put pressure on Winnipeg budget, says councillor
As more Winnipeggers wait for city crews to thaw out their frozen water pipes, at least one city councillor has a warning about the costs of dealing with the situation.
A total of 1,089 properties have no water because of frozen pipes as of Thursday afternoon, which is 44 more than Wednesday.
Pipe-thawing crews are focusing on properties that have been without water for 20 days, according to the city.
On Wednesday, the city stopped giving estimated wait times for pipe-thawing crews to visit affected properties.
That means many homeowners, like Daniel Gervais, are gearing up for a long wait.
Gervais, his wife and three children are trying to make their home livable with dozens of water jugs in the three weeks they've been without running water.
"We don't know what's happening or when we're going to get it, right? We're not given a time frame," he said Thursday.
Officials say it's too early to know what the final costs of the frozen pipes emergency will be.
Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, chair of the city's finance committee, warned that another winter like this may force councillors to make some very difficult choices.
"It's definitely going to be a pressure on the city's budget," he told reporters.
"The snow-clearing budget alone, as you know, last year was 50 per cent over budget," he added.
"We want services, but services have to be paid for, so we have to find ways of doing that."
City eyes scaling back frozen pipe thawing fees
Wyatt's remarks came after his committee approved a motion by Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck, who is calling on the city to give rebates to affected homeowners for pipe-thawing charges dating back to Jan. 1.
Currently, only residents whose pipes were thawed by city crews since Feb. 28 do not have to pay the $305 charge.
Havixbeck's motion will next go to the executive policy committee on March 19 for a vote.
The city had announced Monday afternoon that its crews would thaw pipes free of charge, regardless of whether the frozen pipe was on the city's side or on the property owner's side.
The following day, the city announced it would also reimburse anyone who had paid since Feb. 28. That was chosen as the cut-off date because it's when crews discovered most of the frozen pipes were on city property.
That has left a lot of other people crying foul and wondering why they were being billed.
"People who might have paid … to have their pipes thawed just a day or two before, you know, are somewhat in an unfair position," Havixbeck said.