Pipe protection solicitations creating ‘negative feedback’ from homeowners

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Jon Willing Ottawa Councilor Shawn Menard during a council meeting. Ottawa Councilor Shawn Menard during a council meeting. Photo by Errol McGihon /.Postmedia

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In letters with the city of Ottawa logos asking people to consider plans to protect their underground pipes, some city councilors call confused homeowners and wonder why City Hall is sending the notices.

However, it is not the city government that is behind the letters.

However, the town hall endorses the promotional material that arrived in mailboxes last month.

A sample letter received by Service Line Warranties of Canada homeowners offering water and sewer protection plans on their properties. A sample letter received by Service Line Warranties of Canada homeowners offering water and sewer protection plans on their properties. Photo from the city of Ottawa

It is an “important announcement” posted on some envelopes to homeowners, asking them to consider insurance-like protection for external pipes that connect their home – which is on their property – to the city’s sewer and water supply connect.

The letters are from Service Line Warranties of Canada (SLWC) and indicate a partnership between the company and the city government.

SLWC offers a protection program to cover the cost of repairing these lines when they show signs of wear.


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As part of an update to a household plumbing protection program five years ago, the city council authorized staff to find an optional warranty for homeowners who may want additional protection for the pipe infrastructure on their properties.

In December 2020, all council members received a memo from employees confirming the impending start of the SLWC partnership. City councils received a follow-up email from staff in February with a sample of the letter to be delivered to homeowners.

Confusion over the city’s partnership is causing at least one city council to request a re-examination.

Coun. Shawn Menard, vice chairman of the Council’s Standing Committee on Environmental Protection, Water and Waste Management, said he wanted the city to review the partnership “in light of all the negative feedback we have received from residents of the Capital community.”

Menard intended to propose or investigate at the next committee meeting.

“Ideally, the city does not backfire on such private-sector promotions,” Menard said. “It can be very confusing to people when the official logo and multiple printed mailings are sent out.”

Committee Chairman Coun. Defending the partnership, Scott Moffatt stated that the city’s staff had spent several years developing the residential plumbing protection program, diligent in finding the best option for homeowners to protect their homes.

“Had we had a program like this before 2009, it might have made a huge difference to the residents of Glen Cairn,” Moffatt said, referring to the sewage safeguards that were taking place in the Kanata community.


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“A program like this has value and shouldn’t be tossed aside just because some people didn’t like the look of the mail-out.”

Here you will find answers to some of the most common questions through information provided by the city in the form of memos and reports to the council.

Is this mail-out a fraud with unauthorized use of the city logo?

No. The city has partnered with SLWC to offer homeowners a warranty program. The council approved the voluntary program for local residents in February 2016 in case they want protection for the pipes on their property that are connected to the city’s sewer and water mains. The letters were approved by the city.

Do I have to get this protection plan?

May be. Homeowners should check with their home insurer first to see if their coverage already covers the pipes. From there, it’s pretty much a homeowner’s business. Don’t expect much guidance from the city, however. The city states that it does not have any property-specific data that indicates whether trees, soil conditions, building material or the age of the pipes endanger the integrity of the pipes.

Why is the city working with a US company on this program?

The letter includes a corporate address in Pennsylvania, but SLWC is a subsidiary of HomeService USA Corp. in Canada and uses licensed local contractors for repairs.

Why did the city choose SLWC?

Mostly because of its credibility to other communities in Ontario. Ottawa is one of 62 parishes that have approved the SLWC program. The city used a cooperative purchasing clause in its public procurement statute to create an agreement under the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s community service program for sewer and water pipe guarantees.


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How did the company get my address?

Not out of town. SLWC used a third party provider for publicly available address information.

How much does the city pay for it?

Nothing. SLWC pays for marketing and repairs for customers who have purchased the protection plan. In return for their support, the city receives a license fee of five percent for registrations to cover administrative costs in the town hall.

Did my city council know about the SLWC partnership and the promotional material?

Yes. The city’s employees gave the city council a heads-up in December 2020 and the SLWC partnership started again in February.

Will I receive more letters from SLWC if I am not a customer?

You shouldn’t. Meagan Wheeler Cuddihy, the city’s program manager for locates, laterals and grants, said Thursday that SLWC has completed mailing out the program.

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