Shortage of water meters leads to fears apartment development might dry up

The completion of several apartment buildings in Winnipeg is in limbo because the city is running out of the water meters it normally provides developers.

City says it can't meet demand for meters it normally gives to developers of multi-family buildings

The city blames a shortage of small-diameter meters on supply-chain issues. (CBC News)

The completion of several apartment buildings in Winnipeg is in limbo because the city is running out of the water meters it normally provides developers.

The city says a shortage of small-diameter water meters has left it unable to meet the demand for the devices, which developers install in order to monitor the water usage of individual apartment tenants or condominium owners.

River Heights-Fort Garry Coun. John Orlikow said he fears the resulting occupancy delays will lead to new costs for developers, deprive the city of property-tax revenue and leave tenants who have signed leases without a place to live.

"If you don't have any idea if you can actually get water online, you can't get occupancy and I'm sure that's going to cause a real big headache for a lot of developers," Orlikow said in an interview.

His ward includes the Refinery District, a Fort Garry residential area taking shape in what used to be the Sugar Beet Lands industrial area, north of Bishop Grandin Boulevard. Orlikow said he has been told one of the multi-family buildings under construction in the new neighbourhood is now on hold.

"People invest a lot of money to get these projects started. We need the housing. We see our numbers continually increasing," he said. "We need these units online."

The city would not say when it will run out of the meters it provides to developers of new apartment buildings and condominiums.

"There are industry shortages of water meters as a result of supply chain issues," city spokesperson Kalen Qually said in a statement.

"The city is experiencing delays in supplying all requested water meters to multi-family developments, however we are working with developers on interim solutions for building readings until enough meters are obtained."

Several multi-family buildings are under construction on Ballantrae Road in Winnipeg's Refinery District, a Fort Garry neighbourhood formerly known as the Sugar Beet Lands. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

The city is working with its supplier to obtain more of the small-diameter meters, said Lisa Marquardson, a spokesperson for Winnipeg's water and waste department.

In the meantime, the installation of these meters is down 50 per cent, she said.

Developers of new apartment buildings are being offered a single large meter instead, with the option of adding additional meters when the supply increases, Marquardson said.

There are no shortages of the water meters the city provides to single-family homes, she added.

The Manitoba Home Builders Association said it is monitoring the situation.

"We want to make sure that any delay like this doesn't have a significant impact in terms of the pace of residential construction and the installation of water meters," president and CEO Lanny McInnes said in an interview.

"That's the critical piece of of having someone move into their new home."


Bartley Kives

Senior reporter, CBC Manitoba

Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba.


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