Councillors demand Winnipeg share frozen pipe information

At least two city councillors say they should have access to more information when it comes to Winnipeg's frozen-pipe crisis.

John Orlikow calls for rating system about degree of risk homeowners face

City Councillor Paula Havixbeck says Winnipeg city councillors should know where the homes with frozen pipes are. 0:56

At least two city councillors say they should have access to more information when it comes to Winnipeg's frozen-pipe crisis.

River Heights - Fort Garry Coun. John Orlikow said city councillors aren't given access to information about the extent of the problem in their own wards, such as the addresses of homes with frozen pipes.

He said it makes it difficult to share information with his constituents and help them through the emergency.

"I'm trying to do my job and when I get stonewalled from being able to do my job, it's very frustrating," he said Thursday.

"We know people are out there right now are scared," he said. "I am scared. Are we going to run out of water? Are more pipes going to freeze? So we need to be communicating better with the public, in my opinion, on different levels of threat."

CBC News analyzed city data and found more than five thousand properties where pipes could freeze.

Coun. Paula Havixbeck agreed the city has not provided enough information about frozen pipes, and called the CBC's map the most precise information about at-risk properties she's seen since the emergency began.

"I'm not an engineer," she said. "I don't pretend to have all the answers. But I know we have to assure citizens that this won't happen again and I don't feel that confidence."

There are clusters of at risk properties in St John's, Weston and Earl Grey. Some are also in John Orlikow's ward, River Heights - Fort Garry.

Orlikow said no one has a clear understanding of exactly why some pipes freeze, and others don't. 
Frozen pipes left many Sudbury residents without water this winter. Infrastructure general manager Tony Cecutti says it cost $2.9 million to repair water lines and water main breaks between January and March. (CBC)

"Nothing is definitive and that's the problem," he said. "Like, we don't even know why some pipes freeze and others don't. That pipe should have froze[n] but it didn't freeze. It could be the amount of water flow you're using, [it could be] manhole covers, [or the] connection to the house.  There's a whole bunch of variables for sure."

City advises residents how pay water bills 

The list of properties waiting for the city to thaw their frozen pipes grew again Thursday, with the addition of 24, bringing the total number of properties waiting for service to 1,364.

Meanwhile, the city is telling customers running their water to prevent the pipes from freezing who get their quarterly utility bill, to pay the same amount they paid on their last quarterly bill.

The city said the amount will be adjusted to account for the water they ran to prevent the pipes from freezing.

It also said this way, late payment charges will not be applied for the balance showing as outstanding. 

The city said it will tell residents when they can stop running the water, which could be as late as June. 

Accounts will be adjusted once the risk the pipes could freeze is over.

It applies to:

  • residents notified by the city to run one cold water tap at a trickle to prevent water pipes from freezing,
  • residents who have had pipes thawed and told to run water
  • residents who have authorized the city to hook up a temporary hose to provide water to their neighbour. 

The city said customers can reach the Utility Billing Centre by email at or by phone at 204-986-2455. 

Officials expect call volumes will be higher than normal until the risk of freezing is over and all utility accounts are adjusted.


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