Hamilton offers up to $1,000 grant to homeowners over frozen pipes

News Jun 02, 2015 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton could be offering over half a million dollars in compassionate grants to homeowners who experienced frozen pipe problem problems this winter.

The city’s water staff had offered a program with a 50/50 cost sharing agreement with the homeowner, plus a grant of not more than $500, but members of the public works committee decided to boost the offer. Instead, a motion introduced by Mountain councillor Tom Jackson, and approved by the rest of the committee, had the city covering the entire expenses, and increasing the grant to a maximum of $1,000 for eligible costs to residents directly related to thawing frozen water services.

There are few stipulations associated with the grant program, including making it available only for homeowners who experienced frozen water services that were found to be on public land. The program is also being offered only for the past winter season.

There are a potential for 569 homeowners who could make a claim to the city. So far, said Dan McKinnon, director of water and wastewater, the city has received 108 claims.

The compassionate program by the city was prompted by councillors, particularly representing the mountain, who heard horror stories of some residents stuck without water for days during the severe cold winter months. Mountain representatives reminded staff that homeowners on the escarpment had the highest number of frozen pipes because of the February freeze. They also complained about the city’s slow response and poor communications to residents, which McKinnon acknowledged.

Mountain councillor Scott Duvall said there were some families, with children, who had no water for over a week. He said residents became frustrated with the limited response by the city.

Mountain councillor Tom Jackson said the compassionate grant program for frozen pipe services is modeled on the city’s grant program for residential flooding victims that began 11 years ago that eventually had the city offering backwater valves at low or no cost to residents. The city has spent about $15 million on the program.

Jackson said later that the half million dollar investment to provide compassionate grants was necessary to assist homeowners who suffered through the harsh winter.

Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead said the city should provide some financial assistance to those residents who had frozen pipes on their properties. Homeowners thinking about seeking a claim on private property from the city are out of luck. The grant also only applies to residential properties.

“There is a moral obligation to do something,” said Whitehead. “(Private homeowners) suffered too. They didn’t do anything wrong.”

City water officials said the last winter was especially severe on Hamilton’s water infrastructure. They received 1,213 calls from residents about frozen pipes, an increase from the 674 in 2014. The average number of calls about frozen pipes before was about 30.

There were also more residents calling for water delivery than in previous years. There were 1,863 calls in 2015, compared to 204 in 2014, and less than one on average for the previous four years.

It also cost the city $2.3 million in extra costs to address frozen pipes and deliver water to homeowners last winter.

McKinnon says residents and city officials need to adapt to the changing climate.

“This is new territory,” said McKinnon. “The new weather is changing all of that.”

McKinnon added that since Hamilton has established the compassionate grant to homeowners for frozen pipes, it sets a precedent for future years.

If the city experiences severe winter weather this year, Hamilton may be obligated to provide another grant program.

“This is putting a stake in the ground for the next time,” he said.

Hamilton politicians are scheduled to vote on the committee’s motion at their June 10 council meeting.

Homeowners have 120 days after council votes for the program to apply for the grant.

Hamilton offers up to $1,000 grant to homeowners over frozen pipes

News Jun 02, 2015 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton could be offering over half a million dollars in compassionate grants to homeowners who experienced frozen pipe problem problems this winter.

The city’s water staff had offered a program with a 50/50 cost sharing agreement with the homeowner, plus a grant of not more than $500, but members of the public works committee decided to boost the offer. Instead, a motion introduced by Mountain councillor Tom Jackson, and approved by the rest of the committee, had the city covering the entire expenses, and increasing the grant to a maximum of $1,000 for eligible costs to residents directly related to thawing frozen water services.

There are few stipulations associated with the grant program, including making it available only for homeowners who experienced frozen water services that were found to be on public land. The program is also being offered only for the past winter season.

There are a potential for 569 homeowners who could make a claim to the city. So far, said Dan McKinnon, director of water and wastewater, the city has received 108 claims.

The compassionate program by the city was prompted by councillors, particularly representing the mountain, who heard horror stories of some residents stuck without water for days during the severe cold winter months. Mountain representatives reminded staff that homeowners on the escarpment had the highest number of frozen pipes because of the February freeze. They also complained about the city’s slow response and poor communications to residents, which McKinnon acknowledged.

Mountain councillor Scott Duvall said there were some families, with children, who had no water for over a week. He said residents became frustrated with the limited response by the city.

Mountain councillor Tom Jackson said the compassionate grant program for frozen pipe services is modeled on the city’s grant program for residential flooding victims that began 11 years ago that eventually had the city offering backwater valves at low or no cost to residents. The city has spent about $15 million on the program.

Jackson said later that the half million dollar investment to provide compassionate grants was necessary to assist homeowners who suffered through the harsh winter.

Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead said the city should provide some financial assistance to those residents who had frozen pipes on their properties. Homeowners thinking about seeking a claim on private property from the city are out of luck. The grant also only applies to residential properties.

“There is a moral obligation to do something,” said Whitehead. “(Private homeowners) suffered too. They didn’t do anything wrong.”

City water officials said the last winter was especially severe on Hamilton’s water infrastructure. They received 1,213 calls from residents about frozen pipes, an increase from the 674 in 2014. The average number of calls about frozen pipes before was about 30.

There were also more residents calling for water delivery than in previous years. There were 1,863 calls in 2015, compared to 204 in 2014, and less than one on average for the previous four years.

It also cost the city $2.3 million in extra costs to address frozen pipes and deliver water to homeowners last winter.

McKinnon says residents and city officials need to adapt to the changing climate.

“This is new territory,” said McKinnon. “The new weather is changing all of that.”

McKinnon added that since Hamilton has established the compassionate grant to homeowners for frozen pipes, it sets a precedent for future years.

If the city experiences severe winter weather this year, Hamilton may be obligated to provide another grant program.

“This is putting a stake in the ground for the next time,” he said.

Hamilton politicians are scheduled to vote on the committee’s motion at their June 10 council meeting.

Homeowners have 120 days after council votes for the program to apply for the grant.

Hamilton offers up to $1,000 grant to homeowners over frozen pipes

News Jun 02, 2015 by Kevin Werner Hamilton Mountain News

Hamilton could be offering over half a million dollars in compassionate grants to homeowners who experienced frozen pipe problem problems this winter.

The city’s water staff had offered a program with a 50/50 cost sharing agreement with the homeowner, plus a grant of not more than $500, but members of the public works committee decided to boost the offer. Instead, a motion introduced by Mountain councillor Tom Jackson, and approved by the rest of the committee, had the city covering the entire expenses, and increasing the grant to a maximum of $1,000 for eligible costs to residents directly related to thawing frozen water services.

There are few stipulations associated with the grant program, including making it available only for homeowners who experienced frozen water services that were found to be on public land. The program is also being offered only for the past winter season.

There are a potential for 569 homeowners who could make a claim to the city. So far, said Dan McKinnon, director of water and wastewater, the city has received 108 claims.

The compassionate program by the city was prompted by councillors, particularly representing the mountain, who heard horror stories of some residents stuck without water for days during the severe cold winter months. Mountain representatives reminded staff that homeowners on the escarpment had the highest number of frozen pipes because of the February freeze. They also complained about the city’s slow response and poor communications to residents, which McKinnon acknowledged.

Mountain councillor Scott Duvall said there were some families, with children, who had no water for over a week. He said residents became frustrated with the limited response by the city.

Mountain councillor Tom Jackson said the compassionate grant program for frozen pipe services is modeled on the city’s grant program for residential flooding victims that began 11 years ago that eventually had the city offering backwater valves at low or no cost to residents. The city has spent about $15 million on the program.

Jackson said later that the half million dollar investment to provide compassionate grants was necessary to assist homeowners who suffered through the harsh winter.

Mountain councillor Terry Whitehead said the city should provide some financial assistance to those residents who had frozen pipes on their properties. Homeowners thinking about seeking a claim on private property from the city are out of luck. The grant also only applies to residential properties.

“There is a moral obligation to do something,” said Whitehead. “(Private homeowners) suffered too. They didn’t do anything wrong.”

City water officials said the last winter was especially severe on Hamilton’s water infrastructure. They received 1,213 calls from residents about frozen pipes, an increase from the 674 in 2014. The average number of calls about frozen pipes before was about 30.

There were also more residents calling for water delivery than in previous years. There were 1,863 calls in 2015, compared to 204 in 2014, and less than one on average for the previous four years.

It also cost the city $2.3 million in extra costs to address frozen pipes and deliver water to homeowners last winter.

McKinnon says residents and city officials need to adapt to the changing climate.

“This is new territory,” said McKinnon. “The new weather is changing all of that.”

McKinnon added that since Hamilton has established the compassionate grant to homeowners for frozen pipes, it sets a precedent for future years.

If the city experiences severe winter weather this year, Hamilton may be obligated to provide another grant program.

“This is putting a stake in the ground for the next time,” he said.

Hamilton politicians are scheduled to vote on the committee’s motion at their June 10 council meeting.

Homeowners have 120 days after council votes for the program to apply for the grant.