Winnipeg's frozen water pipe list hits new high
Coun. Paula Havixbeck calls on Mayor Sam Katz to call emergency council session
A Winnipeg city councillor is urging Mayor Sam Katz to call an emergency meeting to discuss the city's frozen water pipes problem, as the number of homes and businesses without water continues to rise.
A total of 778 homes and businesses are without water as of Friday, up from 722 the day before.
City officials say they have been getting, on average, about 70 new calls about frozen pipes daily.
Diane Sacher, the city's director of water and waste, said Thursday the growing number of people and properties on the list is an emergency.
This week, the city has offered free access to shower facilities in the city's indoor swimming pools, and firefighters started delivering jugs of potable water to homes and businesses.
However, many residents — many of whom have been waiting days and weeks without water — have expressed frustration with how long it's taking the city to address their complaints and send over crews to thaw their pipes or connect their homes with a temporary water supply.
Willing to meet on weekend, says Havixbeck
Charleswood-Tuxedo Coun. Paula Havixbeck says she wants Katz to call a special council meeting to discuss an idea, floated by the mayor earlier in the week, to cover hotel costs for affected families until their water service is restored or a temporary fix is in place.
"I've heard councillors say they are willing to meet even on the weekend if need be to establish the spending authority to proceed with it," she said.
"I hear from residents that they're deeply concerned if they can't get temporary water."
Katz said he hopes to call a special meeting on Monday or Tuesday, but he added that there aren't enough councillors available to hold one — a statement that Havixbeck disagrees with.
Havixbeck said people, some of whom have been without water for weeks, are desperate.
"I empathize with people who don't have access to water," she said.
"Some don't have their heat either because if you have radiator heat, you lose the water supply to that. So I'm very concerned and, as a parent, I know how much laundry people need to do."
In his state of the city address, Katz acknowledged that the frozen pipes issue is the biggest challenge the city is facing right now.
"Any challenges that we've faced, we as a council have addressed," he later told reporters.
"We've gotten what we believe to be the best expertise so that these things don't happen again, and we will continue to do that."
Nearly 2,000 properties at risk
At least 104 property owners have had water jugs delivered to them as of Friday afternoon, with another 116 expected to get water by day's end, according to the city.
City officials said Friday that they're contacting another 1,725 properties that are considered at risk of having frozen water pipes.
Homeowners who are contacted by the city are urged to run their water taps at a trickle to help prevent their pipes from freezing.
While some residents have said they want to run their water taps, even if the city doesn't call them, officials are urging people not to do that.
Properties that run their water taps without being told to do so by the city could contribute to sewer problems, according to officials.