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City of Calgary slammed with frozen pipe service requests

Pamela Volk and her husband have had to go to their landlord’s house to shower since the water line into their home froze on Sunday.

Volk said they first noticed that they’d lost water to their home in Ramsay on Sunday evening. The problem was localized to their home only, but a plumber determined the problem was on the city’s side of the pipe.

“If it’s a frozen water problem, there isn’t much they can do unless they send a boiler out,” said Volk.

A city truck later came and found the same problem, but told the family they would need to call 311 to get into the queue to have the problem fixed.

She made numerous calls to 311, but soon learned that they’re not the only ones in this city dealing with this same problem. A month-long cold snap has sent frost deeper into the ground than normal.

According to a city official, the frost has now reached a depth of 8 feet in some places.

Volk’s husband was told by one 311 operator that it could be two or three weeks before city crews could respond.

Volk and her husband have two small children and work full time. She started out taking a day off work to be home in case someone showed up to thaw the line. She was told if nobody was there, the crews would have to move on to the next home. But at the same time, no one from the city could tell her when crews might arrive.

On Tuesday, she got a slightly more detailed answer on when they might see the repair truck.

“It’s definitely not today and most likely not until tomorrow,” said Volk, who said she was also told that one of the city’s four trucks which deal with frozen pipes had been broken down, and was only repaired on Tuesday.

LiveWire reached out to the city to learn more about the problem, however a representative from Water Services said officials were unavailable for an interview today

In an emailed statement, the department said it has received 83 calls to properties with frozen water mains since Friday. For context, Calgary received only 10 such requests all last winter.

Crews are working 24/7 to deal with the backlog, and have reached out to contractors for added support, the city said.

Volk said some 311 operators had mentioned the possibility of the city bringing them a water trailer, which would allow the family to fill their own buckets and bottles in the yard and bring them inside. There’s still no word on when they might receive that.

She said for now, they’re relying on the kindness of their neighbours and landlord, as well as her parents who have been cooking up dinner for everyone.

“It seems crazy to me that we pay our on time, my landlord pays his taxes, everything is up to date, and no one can just come and fix the problem,” said Volk.