The City of Winnipeg is asking private contractors to call 311 before accessing water valves to thaw frozen pipes.
Local plumber Don Connors spoke out to the media on Tuesday, saying he received a cease and desist letter from the city asking him to stop accessing secure water valves. Under a city bylaw, contractors are not permitted to access such infrastructure without first notifying the city and waiting for a public works employee to attend the job site and supervise the process.
Residents frustrated without having running water have been calling in private companies to thaw their water lines while the city works through a backlog of homes with its three thawing machines.
Water distribution engineer Tim Shanks says the city is working with contractors to give them key access to water valves, but Connors said his request to 311 for an employee come out went unanswered.
“Over the last few weeks, we have become aware of at least four incidents where contractors not following city bylaws have damaged city or private property infrastructure,” a city spokesperson said. “This has the potential for costly repairs. Where they (the contractor) damage private property, the property owner is responsible for repairs.”
There are currently 608 Winnipeg properties without running water, with 1,360 waiting for thawing service.