Winnipeg mayoral hopeful Havixbeck pledges thawed pipes in 24 hours

Paula Havixbeck says if she's elected Winnipeg mayor this fall, she would promise to have residents' frozen water pipes thawed within 24 hours, or else they would be offered temporary accommodations.
Mayoral candidate Paula Havixbeck unveiled a three-part plan on Wednesday that would address the city's frozen pipes problem. (CBC)

Paula Havixbeck says if she's elected Winnipeg mayor this fall, she would promise to have residents' frozen water pipes thawed within 24 hours, or else they would be offered temporary accommodations.

Havixbeck said she would also make sure the city acquires more equipment and train more workers to thaw frozen pipes.

The city councillor and mayoral hopeful unveiled a three-part plan on Wednesday that would address a problem that plagued thousands of Winnipeg homes and businesses this past winter.

"I am going to assure people that your pipes will be thawed within 24 hours. If not, we should be putting people in hotel rooms," she told reporters. "I'm standing committed to that."

Havixbeck said in the short term, she would ensure yards and boulevards that were damaged in the frozen pipes crisis — many of which haven't been fixed yet — are repaired in a co-ordinated manner.

"As a city councillor, I'm hearing from numerous property owners that their property was not repaired after equipment was in and their frozen pipes were worked on. That needs to happen before snow flies again," she said.

Havixbeck said some residents have been told their properties wouldn't be repaired until next spring.

She said if elected, she would also have the city acquire more equipment to thaw pipes, as well as cross-train staff in order to boost the number of available workers during peak times.

Havixbeck said her long-term solution to the frozen pipes problem would be to work with the University of Manitoba and national manufacturers' associations to make Winnipeg a "centre for excellence" in the frozen pipes field.

"As a city we spent this year reacting, in the future we need to be proactive," she said in a news release.

"This is a proactive plan that will prevent this from happening, provide guidance for when it occurs, and allow for better communication with affected citizens."

As well, she said more work needs to be done with contractors, developers and experts to revisit the city's current bylaw, which states that pipes must be buried seven feet and six inches below the ground, but not deeper than nine feet without prior approval.

Frost levels reached depths of about eight feet this winter, causing many pipes to freeze, she said.

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