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Canadians with Kitec plumbing may be eligible for compensation in class action

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A type of plumbing sold between 1995 and 2007 may be a flood waiting to happen in your home, but the good news is the Kitec products are the subject of a class-action lawsuit that has been settled for tens of millions of dollars, so homeowners are eligible for partial compensation to pay for repairs.

“It was very widely used,” Halifax plumbing company owner Dimitri Papoulis said, noting it was popular because it was inexpensive.

Papoulis said Kitec was the “go-to pipe” for most heating companies in the early 2000s and late 1990s before it was recalled because both the fittings and pipes were prone to deterioration.

Kitec, billed as a cheaper and easy-to-install alternative to copper piping, was used across Canada primarily in hot water baseboard and in-floor heating systems, according to a 2013 brochure published by the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission. It says the plumbing consists of “flexible aluminum pipe between an inner and outer layer of plastic pipe (PEX pipe) with brass fittings.”

Look for bright orange or bright blue

The product may also have other brand names, including PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA and WarmRite.

It can be identified by its bright orange (hot water) and bright blue (cold water) covering. The piping is also labelled with “ASTM 1281.”

Kitec pipes can be identified by their bright orange and blue colours. (http://www.kitecsettlement.com)

Papoulis said often, the problem is with the Kitec fittings.

“It mostly happens on well water because of the mineral content, the acidity of the water,” he said. “It chews away the brass fittings.”

‘It will fail’

The other issue is the piping itself. Over time, the plastic pipe and aluminum expand and contract at different temperatures, and that can cause them to burst.

“It will fail. It’s only a matter of time,” Papoulis said.

Some of the fittings used for Kitec pipes that may degrade and cause flooding. (http://www.kitecsettlement.com)

He said the cost of replacing Kitec depends on a number of factors, including the size of the home, but it can range from $4,000 to $15,000.

Kitec was recalled and subsequently the subject of a class-action lawsuit in Canada and the United States that was settled for $125 million US. The settlement says homeowners are eligible for 50 per cent of the average cost to repair or replace the piping and fittings. Even those who have not had an issue with the product can apply for compensation. Homeowners have until January 2020 to make a claim.

Most homeowners unaware

It’s not known how many homes in Canada have Kitec, but the class-action settlement site estimates there are approximately 292,000 installations/properties with the Kitec system in North America.

Halifax-area real estate agent Jacqui Rostek says Kitec is an issue that comes up with both buyers and sellers, and that she sees “a couple of dozen times a year.”

“In my experience, sellers that bought their house in 2011 or before are usually completely oblivious to the fact that there’s potentially an issue with the pipes,” she told CBC News.

One easy way homeowners can check whether their home has Kitec is to look for the bright orange or blue pipes leading from their hot water heater or their hot water baseboards.

Insurance companies have varied response

Papoulis said there is no consistency on how different insurance companies deal with Kitec in homes.

He said some will pay to replace it, others will insure homes but at a higher rate and others give homeowners a certain amount of time to replace it or lose their insurance.

He has also found some homes where Kitec was used long after it was recalled.

He said it’s important to know whether you have the product so you can decide what, if anything, to do about it. He has seen basements flooded by broken fittings and pipes, and said everyone should know how to turn off their water in the event their pipes break.

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List of Tourist Attractions Open Now in Ottawa

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With Ontario now in Step 3 of 2021 three-step plan for reopening, museums and other indoor attractions are allowed to reopen with capacity limited to not exceed 50 per cent capacity indoors and 75 per cent capacity outdoors.

Here is a list of Ottawa attractions you can visit starting July 16th.

Do remember to wear masks and buy tickets in advance.

Parliament Hill

Parliament’s Centre Block and Peace Tower are closed for renovation.

You can join for tours of the Senate of Canada Building (2 Rideau Street), House of Commons at West Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill, and East Block at East Block (111 Wellington Street) on Parliament Hill.

When: Grounds open; guided tours of Parliament are suspended through the summer of 2021.
Where: 111 Wellington Street, Downtown Ottawa

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Ottawa performer leapfrogs from gymnastics to Broadway to TV

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A new AppleTV+ series set in a magical town that’s stuck in a neverending 1940s musical includes a pair of Ottawa siblings in the cast. 

Warren Yang and his sister, Ericka Hunter, play two of the singing, dancing residents of the village portrayed in Schmigadoon!, a small-screen series that takes its cues from classic musicals like Brigadoon, Wizard of Oz and Sound of Music, and skewers them with the offbeat comedic mastery of Saturday Night Live. 

In fact, you’ll recognize many of the names from SNL, starting with executive producer Lorne Michaels, creator of the late-night, live-comedy sketch show. Schmigadoon! also stars SNL cast member Cecily Strong and comedian Keegan-Michael Key, who hosted SNL in May. They play a New York couple who get lost on a hike and stumble into a strange town where everyone sings and dances. 

For Yang, a relative newcomer to show-biz, the series marks his television debut. For Hunter, the younger of his two older sisters, it’s the latest in a career path that began with dance lessons as a child more than 30 years ago. She attended Canterbury High School, Ottawa’s arts-focused secondary school. 

“Her dream was always to perform,” said Yang, 34, in an interview. “But that was never the path I thought was an option for me.” 

While his sister studied dance, Yang did gymnastics. He was an elite gymnast throughout his youth, ultimately leaving Merivale High School at 16 to train in Montreal, finishing high school through correspondence courses. He was a member of the Canadian National Team and received a scholarship to study at Penn State, majoring in marketing. 

A few years after graduation, Yang was working at an advertising agency in Toronto when he got a call from a Manhattan number. To his astonishment, they asked if he would be interested in auditioning for a Broadway revival of Miss Saigon.

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COVID-19: uOttawa to require vaccination for students living in residence

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Vaccination will be mandatory for students who want to live in residence at the University of Ottawa this year, with proof of vaccination and at least one dose required before move-in, or within two weeks of doing so if they can’t secure a shot before arriving.

Those who can’t receive a vaccine for “health-related reasons or other grounds protected under the Ontario Human Rights Code” will be able to submit a request for accommodation through the university’s housing portal, according to information on the university’s website.

Students with one dose living in residence will also have to receive their second dose “within the timeframe recommended by Ottawa Public Health.”

People who haven’t been granted an exemption and don’t get vaccinated or submit proof of having done so by the deadlines set out by the school will have their residence agreements terminated, uOttawa warns.

“Medical and health professionals are clear that vaccination is the most (effective) means of protecting people and those around them,” reads a statement provided to this newspaper by uOttawa’s director of strategic communications, Patrick Charette.

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“It is precisely for this reason that the University of Ottawa is requiring all students living in residence for the 2021-2022 academic year to be fully vaccinated. The University recognizes that some students may require accommodations for a variety of reasons and will be treating exceptions appropriately.”

Faculty, staff and students are also strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, the statement notes.

“Ensuring a high vaccine coverage in all communities is critical to ensuring an ongoing decline in cases and ending the pandemic. This will be especially important with the return of students to post-secondary institutions in our region in the fall of 2021.”

Neither Carleton University nor Algonquin College is currently mandating vaccination for students living in residence, according to the websites for both schools. But uOttawa isn’t alone in its policy – Western University, Trent University, Durham College and Fanshawe College have all implemented similar requirements. Seneca College, in the GTA, is going even further, making vaccination mandatory for students and staff to come to campus, in-person, for the fall term.

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