February 5, 2019 9:52 pm

Tow truck calls, furnace repairs increase significantly in frigid Lethbridge

The frigid temperature in Lethbridge is pushing tow truck drivers and heating and plumbing companies into overdrive. Matt Battochio reports.

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Southern Alberta is mired in a cold stretch, and many people aren’t happy about it. But for tow truck driver Chris Johansen, dealing with the cold weather is merely part of the job.

“I’m used to it because I’ve been doing this for so long,” said Johansen, who is the driver supervisor for TNT Towing and Salvage. “I don’t really have any feelings about it (the weather).”

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Johansen says he’s been working long days and nights since the cold snap hit Lethbridge over the weekend, answering a wide range of calls.

“Boosts, unlocks, we open people’s cars if they lock their keys in, tire changes if they slide out and hit a curb,” Johansen said. “Tows when their car won’t start, that type of thing.”

The City of Lethbridge says its water main system is holding up well amid the cold weather. There has only been one water main break in Lethbridge, which was in the downtown area. At this point, the city isn’t sure if the weather was a factor in that case.

The cold weather is, however, taking a toll on water meters.

“There has been a rash of meter breaks happening,” said City of Lethbridge waste and wastewater operations manager Adam Campbell. “Typically, where we’ve been finding some is in commercial and industrial properties where the meter isn’t in a room that is actually heated properly.”

The city says the ground may not have frozen deep enough yet to threaten underground pipes, but a prolonged cold stretch could present risks.

If the cold grips Lethbridge for a long time, the city is confident in their improved water main system.

“Over the past 30 years, the city has invested heavily into the water main system,” Campbell said. “Typically, that is what is affected by colder temperatures the most anyways. Because of (the improvements), we’re actually experiencing substantially (fewer) breaks then we did even 30 years ago, to the tune of maybe an 80 to 90 per cent reduction.”

Water pipes might be holding up well, but the same can’t be said for furnaces in the city.

KB Heating, Plumbing and Air Conditioning tells Global News that on Monday and Tuesday, the company saw close to 10 times its normal call volume for furnace repairs, including around 100 calls from people getting no heat.

Environment Canada forecasts that Lethbridge will remain in this cold stretch through the weekend.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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