Homeowner hit with $27K water bill could get some of his cash back

The City of Winnipeg will review the case of a Winnipeg man who was stuck with a $27,000 waste-and-sewer bill after he bought a home in St. Vital.

City of Winnipeg to review case of unusual bill for demolished home

Azher Mubeen received a $27,000 water bill for a property he purchased in 2016. He paid the bill but complained and sued the city, which is now reviewing the case. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

The City of Winnipeg will review the case of a Winnipeg man who was stuck with a $27,000 waste-and-sewer bill after he bought a home in St. Vital.

In 2016, Azhar Mubeen bought a teardown on Blenheim Avenue in the Glenwood neighbourhood and demolished the 650-square-foot house to make room for a new 1,100-square-foot home for his family of six.

The new structure was going up when he received a $27,203 water-and-sewer bill even though services at the home were turned off before the demolition started.

The city nonetheless refused to reduce the bill, which Mubeen wound up paying because he wanted to dispose of the property.

Mubeen then complained to the Manitoba ombudsman, which concluded the city acted unfairly and recommended a reduction in the bill.

In a report completed in April, the ombudsman found the city acted in accordance with its current policies and bylaws, but still recommended city officials take into account mitigating circumstances in cases of unexpectedly high water bills to ensure reasonable and fair billings.

City officials initially said they would not follow the ombudsman's recommendation.

There was a slight variation between the previous month's estimated water bill and the next month's bill.

But in an appearance before council's water and waste committee on Thursday, water and waste director Moira Geer said Winnipeg's chief administrative officer will review the ombudsman's report.

The results of that review will be presented to city councillors in a closed-door seminar, she said.

Water and waste committee chair Brian Mayes (St. Vital) said this leaves the door open to compensation for Mubeen.

"​I'm not going to close off any options. I don't want to sound like I'm throwing the staff under the bus. I'm not," Mayes said at city hall after the meeting.

"But [the] first I heard about this whole report from the ombudsman and the reply was when I was called by the media [in August], so I intend to ask a lot of questions and I'm glad we'll have a chance as the elected officials to work this through."

There is no timeline for the completion of the review or the council seminar.

Mubeen said he is happy the city will be reviewing his case. He was not prepared to answer on Thursday whether he'd drop his legal action against the city.

With files from Jacques Marcoux, Ian Froese


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