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Lethbridge resident frustrated by city sewer work, wants efficiency for taxpayers

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge resident frustrated by city sewer maintenance calls for more accountability'
Lethbridge resident frustrated by city sewer maintenance calls for more accountability
A Lethbridge resident says he's not happy with how long it took city workers to complete sewer maintenance in front of his house. As Taz Dhaliwal explains, he's asking for more accountability from city officials – Jan 27, 2021

West Lethbridge resident Michael Shideler recently had to call on the city to fix a sunken pipe outside his home. City workers attended the site, but Shideler says he was frustrated by what he saw next.

“I noticed guys were sitting in the [work] shack for hours, even before coffee break,” Shideler said.

“They were misusing equipment, like from a guy sitting in a gravel truck, a guy sitting in a backhoe, a guy sitting in a three-tonne truck, a guy standing beside the ditch,” he added.

Shideler says it’s disheartening to see that while working in the private industry himself, knowing there are many who don’t have the same benefits and security as those working in the public sector, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Shideler has worked in the water sewer industry for nearly two decades and says it took city workers almost two weeks to complete a job that could have been done in about two days.

According to him, workers arrived on site on Jan. 12 and left on Jan. 22.

He goes on to say when city workers were there, they had great weather and there were no utilities in the way of the dig, which would have all contributed to excellent outdoor working conditions for the job.

“The trench was 15 feet long and two pipes just needed to be lowered,” Shideler said, explaining a new core hole needed to be made by the manhole, adding the job shouldn’t have taken as long as it did.

He calls what he saw mismanagement of time, equipment and resources at the expense of taxpayers, with workers taking numerous extended breaks.

Shideler says he pays $13,000 a year in property taxes and an additional $25,000 for a business he and his wife own downtown. Considering how much of his money goes into taxes, along with other residents, Shideler says he wants the city to look into cutting inefficiencies in this particular industry in order to help ease the burden on taxpayers.

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“When these guys take too long on a job — two, three weeks — they go over [budget], there’s no accountability,” Shideler said.

“If we’re doing a job for the city privately and we have to get a tie-in done and if we don’t get it done within the deadline, they charge, there’s penalties to not getting the job done. But what penalties are there for these public works?” he asked.

Global News reached out to the city in regards to this matter and received a statement, which read:

“The City of Lethbridge is working with the resident directly on his concerns,” the statement reads.

“The resident contacted 311, had a formal request logged and was put in touch with a manager. Our Water & Wastewater operations manager spoke with the resident at length on his concerns and has committed to conduct a review of the circumstances of this particular job,” it goes on to read.

“Balancing emergencies and scheduled work sometimes requires resources and crews to move in and out based on community needs and priorities.

“The City of Lethbridge is committed to continuous improvement and will look for ways to learn and adjust where appropriate.

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The statement ends by saying: “though experience levels may vary from crew to crew, all City of Lethbridge employees are trained to industry standards for their position.”

Shideler says he has requested to sit down and speak with the mayor and is waiting to hear back from the city manager.

“People in the city need to step up and when they see these things happening, they need to call the city,” Shideler said.

“They need to raise these issues. I mean, there’s got to be a change here.”

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