Private contractor ordered by city to stop thawing frozen pipes

A private contractor who has been thawing frozen pipes in hundreds of Winnipeg homes and businesses says the city is forcing him to stop.

Donald Connors, co-owner of Shields Plumbing and Heating, and his team have restored water service to nearly 300 properties using electric water thawing equipment.

Connors said he needed to gain access to the valves on the city's water mains to do so, but the city sent him a cease-and-desist letter on Monday saying he did not have the authority to access those valves.

“Now there are nine men with nine machines on properties where water pipes are thawing,” he told CBC News.

“I had to tell them all to pack up their tools and equipment and go home because there was nothing more I could do.”

A city spokesman said contractors would need to call 311 and arrange for city workers to gain access to the valves on city water lines.

This rule is intended to protect the city's water system, the spokesman said.

Connors said he tried, but no one from town showed up.

“It's really hard for me to help the people of Winnipeg when, instead of doing something about the situation, the city just wants to issue fines and 'stop' notices,” he said.

“I have residents who don't want to hear 'stop.' They want to hear that all resources have been exhausted.”

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