March 20th, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 12
Frozen Water Lines
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter
The municipality of Crowsnest Pass has made a decision that they will not enter private property to fix frozen water lines in future years.

After a lengthy discussion at a council meeting on March 12, council decided they would leave it up to the owners of the private property to fix whatever problem occurs.

The issue was brought to council because in recent weeks, the municipality has received a number of calls regarding frozen water lines due to the extreme cold.

As of now, the operations department would normally draw an imaginary line at the edge of someone private property regarding services that they would provide the owners.

In most cases where a property owner has issues with a water leakage or sewer blockage, they would be in charge of repairing it themselves within their boundaries.

Currently if the issue is said to be outside the property line, an investigation will take place to determine if the municipality will respond and fix the issue.

With the cold weather recently, the municipality was unsure of how to proceed with the requests to come onto private property to thaw water lines.
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There used to be a Thawing Frozen Water Services Policy dating back to 2004 that gave operations the go ahead to thaw frozen waterlines for residents when the location of the freeze in the water line couldn’t be determined.

That policy was repealed around 2010 and the operations department has been looking for clear direction since.

Currently, frozen water lines are the only grey area when it comes to what work is done by the municipality on private property as all other problems are dealt with strictly by the property owner.

After hearing all the information before them, council has decided they will not be doing repair work of any kind on private property.

Councillor Sygutek did make a recommendation near the end of the discussion to have council create space in next year’s budget for a fund to aid low income property owners who wouldn’t be able to afford repairs on their own.

Council agreed and will have a policy in place that will allow certain residents to approach council based on their income to receive aid for repairs.
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The main reason for this decision by council is to avoid causing further damage to the property unintentionally.

If the municipality were to enter land and cause damage to another part of the property, they would then be forced to cover the cost of those repairs as well which members of council weren’t prepared to do.

Another reason for choosing this route is simply the amount it could cost them for paying the workers.

Director of Development, Engineering and Operations, Mel Bohmer, said the cost could jump fairly quickly depending on the time a request comes in.

“One of the challenges we get is if a request comes in on a weekend. That ends up basically as overtime rates for our crews so we have to reflect that in our costs.”

Chief Administrative Officer, Patrick Thomas, also touched on the issue.

“A call on a weekend would be $400 plus an hour. So that bill gets pretty big pretty quick and the whole time we’re there, we’re hoping not to break anything too.”

Council will now focus on deciding the cutoff for what constitutes a low income property owner to determine the cutoff for land owners who may come across a problem in the future.
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March 20th, 2019 ~ Vol. 89 No. 12
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