When Prince Rupert property owner Jamie McDonald came home from work on Friday, Aug. 25, he said there was no water pressure when he tried to take a shower.
He subsequently called the city. The public works team did a sound assessment, which determined the break was not on the city’s side. Since then, McDonald hired a private company to expose his property’s water pipe, completely destroying his front yard, which he said he spent extensive periods of time maintaining.
The City of Prince Rupert has been struggling with urgent water system breaks across the city. Work started on the city’s pipe system on McDonald’s street (Pillsbury Avenue) during the afternoon of Aug. 30.
After coming to the conclusion there was no break in his pipe, McDonald has become increasingly frustrated at the time and money he’s spent trying to get water back into his home.
“This has cost me days, three days of wages. I lost a day of overtime, digging all this up,” he said. “I actually went to the city to see about cost incurred because I needlessly dug this up, there’s nothing wrong with my water line.”
All residents who feel they should be reimbursed by the city must go through the city’s claims process, which involves an investigation by the city’s insurance provider, according to Tristan Higginson, Deputy Chief Financial Officer.
“We have a process to follow when we get notification of these disputes. We have to balance the interests of the public, in the one sense of private property owners needing answers and needing assistance in getting the services that they require,” he said. “We have to balance that against claims coming in alleging errors or negligence on the city’s part.”
McDonald said he has used his neighbour’s garden hose as his only water source since Friday. With the large expenses he has paid, the homeowner is exasperated with the city’s response.
“They gave me zero choice but to dig this up to prove that mine wasn’t leaking before they would investigate. What is a guy to do?” he said.
The city receives hundreds of calls per year regarding water pipe issues, according to Higginson.
“It’s extremely common. I mean, we get hundreds of calls every year about having a water issue,” he said. “ It does happen all the time, so our crews are going out there, they’re doing their best due diligence to professionally determine if a leak is on the city side or the private property owner side.”