Regina, Brandon can't lend pipe-thawing gear to Winnipeg

As of this warm spring morning, more than 460 Winnipeg properties still struggle with frozen pipes.

Councillors Paula Havixbeck and John Orlikow push city to get pipe-thawing gear from Regina, Brandon

Two Winnipeg city councillors were hoping for frozen pipes help from some western neighbours, but Regina and Brandon won't be committing any resources to help thaw Winnipeg out. 1:43

On this warm spring day, 461 Winnipeg properties still struggle with frozen pipes. Two Winnipeg city councillors were hoping for help from some western neighbours, but Regina and Brandon won't be committing any resources to help thaw Winnipeg out.

Homeowner Matthew Lawrence has been dealing with frozen pipes for more than two months. 

Lawrence is trying to be understanding of the city's challenge to fix the pipes but his patience is waning.

"I'm trying to be mindful of that but at the same time in this whole thing I'm thinking better communication, more communication would've gone a long way."

Lawrence has a hose for water connected to his neighbours house, but he still checks periodically to see if the pipes are working.

"I've closed it a few times to test to see if it's thawed out and still... still frozen, which just boggles your mind — especially when you're dying of heat and you still have frozen pipes," he said.

Charleswood Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck suggesting calling the other cities in a motion to council and said both Regina and Brandon have thawed all their frozen pipes and their equipment is sitting idle.

At a council meeting this morning Havixbeck asked city staff if they were trying to get access to equipment from Regina and Brandon.

"I've been told we are formulating a response ... so that's not adequate,” she said.
Coun. Paula Havixbeck and River Heights councillor John Orlikow introduced a motion Tuesday to expedite a process that would have pipe-thawing gear from Brandon and Regina imported to Winnipeg. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)

Havixbeck and River Heights councillor John Orlikow introduced a motion Tuesday to speed up the process and get the pipe-thawing gear to Winnipeg.

"As of today we have 522 properties that still have frozen pipes,” said Havixbeck. “If all these other big municipalities are done, and their equipment sits idle, why are we not borrowing it and thawing peoples pipes?"

But Brandon city officials told CBC Tuesday afternoon the wheat city is still actively using its pipe-thawing gear on local freezes.

"As we only have one DBH thawing machine, we aren’t in a position to lend it out — we are simply not out of the woods yet in terms of dealing with the issue locally," a City of Brandon spokesperson said.

City officials currently have tabs on four locations in Brandon still known to have frozen pipes.

Despite having already thawed pipes going to 230 Brandon residences, upwards of 354 properties are still on alert and have been instructed to keep their water running to prevent pipes from freezing, the spokesperson said.

CBC called the city of Regina. A spokesperson said they have no equipment to send to Winnipeg. They used city crews and contractors used five crews running continuously to thaw 279 frozen pipes. Of those, 106 were private properties and 170 were on city property. The private properties are responsible for getting their own pipes thawed.

"We feel bad that we're not in a position to help, said John Ullrich, Regina's manager of water and sewer construction. "We've helped other municipalities in the past but here we have our hands full right now and trying to play a bit of catch up and tackle some of the work that was deferred."

Ullrich said they are also at the start of construction season.

"It would be nice to see things slow down a bit but it might take a while for us to catch up and I see that's gonna be happening in Winnipeg also, it'll be a struggle to catch up there as well," he said. 

Orlikow and Havixbeck's motion was ultimately referred to the public works committee without a formal debate.

A spokesperson with the province told the CBC city officials filed a formal request to the federal government asking for financial support to deal with costs associated with frozen pipes.

"As the situation is still unfolding, the actual eligible amount has not been determined," the spokesperson said. "Indications from officials at the federal government are that this type of situation is not likely eligible under the federal [Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement] program.​