02/27/2015 06:24 EST | Updated 04/29/2015 05:59 EDT

Pointe-Claire criticized for frozen pipes by homeowner

The owner of a house that straddles the border of Beaconsfield and Pointe-Claire is criticizing the latter’s administration after two incidents involving frozen pipes lead to a painful week for his tenants.

Robert Arnold says on Feb. 19, the tenants living in his Jasper Street house called him to say there was no running water. One of the tenants, Tamara Reynolds, said inspectors from the City of Pointe-Claire told them that day that the problem was in the home and not in the city’s pipes.

After attempts to fix the situation, Reynolds said city workers returned the next day and changed their tune, stating the problem was with the city’s pipes, but that the city didn’t have the necessary equipment to thaw them, and an outside contractor would need to be called in.

Several days of waiting and frustration follow, said Arnold. Emails and phone calls to the mayor, councillors, and public works often went unanswered, he said, while Reynolds, her husband, and her eight-year-old son used the Pointe-Claire Aquatic Centre to shower.

"The mayor was invisible,” he said. "Days later I got an email saying that it had been forwarded to public works.”

Sunday night, Arnold put his tenants up in a local hotel.

"You can’t live in an environment that long without water,” he said.

Ghost calls

On Monday, Reynolds returned home to find that not only was there still no running water, but the house had been broken into.

"When I came in, there was glass all over the floor and the door had been busted,” she says.

But Reynolds said nothing else had been damaged or stolen, and there was a card on the table from the police saying that they had done it.

Reynolds says police told them that they had received a 911 call from the house. Naturally, no one answered the door when police arrived, and police policy required them to enter the home to make sure no one was in danger.

With cold air pouring into the house, Arnold said he immediately hired a carpenter to repair the door.

That afternoon, a police cruiser once again came rushing into the house’s driveway, for the same reason, startling Reynolds.

"It was very strange,” she says. "It was just a strange day all around.”

It turns out, earlier this month, Pointe-Claire public works crews tending to frozen pipes and a broken water main nearby accidentally damaged phone lines, affecting service to residents and businesses in the area.

Reynolds says their house hasn’t had phone service for two weeks.

Arnold believes this may have caused the 911 calls. He says he has asked Bell to look into the problem, and is hoping the company will compensate him for the damage to his door.

Communication breakdown

Arnold said what enrages him most was the lack of communication he says he has received from the City of Pointe-Claire throughout the ordeal.

He says he only learned the city was finally working on the frozen pipes earlier this week, when a friend noticed crews working outside his house.

"The City of Pointe-Claire has just been horrendous,” he said.

"When you don’t know what’s going on, you can’t get any answers, it’s very frustrating.”

Arnold says water began running again by Wednesday evening, nearly a week after it had stopped. His tenants, who remained in good spirits throughout, returned that night. Arnold says the ordeal was very stressful, bizarre, and cost him about $1,000.

"[I’m] unlucky to say the least,” he said.

City of Pointe-Claire Spokeswoman Marie-Pier Paquette-Séguin says city crews began working on the issue as soon as they were notified, and all communications from Arnold were given to public works, who she says communicated with Arnold daily beginning on Monday.

As for the time it took to resolve the frozen pipes, Paquette-Séguin says the city hires outside firms who have been extremely busy lately. She said in some complex cases, including Arnold’s house, it can take several attempts, and entire days, to thaw them.

"Our firms are very busy and they are trying to do their best,” says Paquette-Séguin. "We have a list of citizens that are in the same situation.”