Harsh winter takes its toll on Winnipeg's pipes, livestock
Published Wednesday, February 26, 2014 8:00PM EST
The first day of spring is less than a month away, but for many Winnipeg residents, it can’t come soon enough.
A sustained, harsh winter is causing widespread problems in both urban and rural regions, with this year’s frigid temperatures taking a toll on city infrastructure, livestock and the home building industry.
Environment Canada said it’s the worst winter Winnipeg has seen since 1979. With the wind chill, temperatures on Wednesday dipped to a frigid -38 C.
In Winnipeg, the brutal temperatures have caused the ground to freeze seven feet below the surface – twice as deep as during average-temperatures winters.
More than 350 homeowners in Winnipeg have frozen pipes. City officials say it will take up to two weeks to repair them and restore water.
Home builders say the weather could slow the season for new builds, as the ground is too cold to lay foundation.
Basement renovations have also been tough this year, because the ground is as hard as concrete.
“We’re almost at the point where we have to use jackhammers just to get through some of this frost,” home renovator David Moore told CTV News.
He said the extreme cold can cause equipment to break down. In addition, construction crews can’t stay warm, which Moore says affects how quickly they work.
Moore expects that the thaw could come at the end of April, which would be almost six weeks behind schedule.
“Come spring, you’re probably going to see a big rush, because everything is going to be pushed back,” he said.
The harsh winter has also impacted local dairy farmers, who are facing challenges in getting feed to their animals.
“That feed has frozen, so we have to break up that feed to make sure it’s not looking like big popsicles,” said dairy farmer Henry Holtmann.
There is good news for farmers, however.
With so much snow in rural areas, the ground under the crops is insulated, and hasn’t frozen anywhere near the levels in the city.
“For us, the abundance of … snow is a blessing, because it actually prevents the frost from going down, it’s just a matter when we can get on the land,” Holtmann said.
With reports from CTV Winnipeg’s Cheryl Holmes