June 24th, 2024

No timelines for tenants affected by watermain break to return

By Al Beeber - Lethbridge Herald on March 15, 2023.

Herald photo by Al Beeber A crew cleans up a basement that was flooded by a recent watermain break downtown. The City says there is no timeline yet for businesses and residents impacted by the break to return.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDabeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

The City of Lethbridge is still working with businesses and residents affected by a recent watermain break across the street from the Lethbridge Hotel.

The break forced evacuations of 26 residential properties and six businesses and caused flooding in basements that reached several feet high.

Initially the City worked with the Canadian Red Cross to support people displaced from their homes and is now helping to connect them to more long-term accommodation so they can stay housed until utilities are restored and they can return home.

In a press conference Tuesday at City Hall, media were told by Luke Palmer, Director of Emergency Management, that no cause of the break has yet been determined.

The break occurred days after a fire destroyed the Lethbridge Hotel where City crews were still on scene Tuesday afternoon.

“First and foremost, we recognize the frustrations and disruption that has occurred regarding the two events that have happened on 2 Avenue and 5 St. S. What we’re focusing on is maintaining life safety so at this point our efforts are totally geared on that effort and making sure that what’s happening at that site is safe for the public to safely move about in their normal business,” said Palmer.

Palmer said the City will be directly engaging tenants and businesses impacted by the watermain break.

“We’re hearing that they are not feeling as informed so today we will be going out and doing some face-to-face meetings to address some of those outstanding questions or concerns that we haven’t quite got to,” said Palmer.

The city is encouraging affected people to reach out to their insurance providers so they can get the support they require.

The City has also notified its own insurance company and an adjuster has been assigned to the case, Palmer said.

A notice of claim can be found on the city’s website to get people started on the process, he added.

The City isn’t responsible for the demolition of the hotel, Palmer noted, saying they’re trying to make it a safe site before transferring it back to the owner.

“At this time, the fire department is focused on their investigative side of things and it sounds like they should be hopefully wrapping that up this week but we don’t have that definitive timeline,” Palmer added.

For specific timelines for those affected by the watermain break, Palmer suggests they reach out to their landlord because it’s based on the utilities.

“We’re trying to maintain access via sidewalks and other available methods to reach these businesses so we’re hoping that they can actually start working now but again they’ll have to work with their landlord and their insurance providers to make sure that happens.”

Everybody on that block has been impacted whether by utilities being shut off or because of flooding in basements, said Palmer.

He said the cause of, and fault, for the break will be left up to insurance providers to determine.

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The city may not be on the snare for the destruction but rather this entire occasion has cost the city citizens, the taxpayers. There are a lot more costs other than the destruction related with the fire.
As a result of a leadership lapse in this city, local businesses and residents once again pay a high price!