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GTA, regional mayors meet to discuss ice storm relief

January 19, 2014
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GTA mayors and regional chairs passed a unanimous resolution asking the provincial and federal governments to provide financial assistance for the Dec. 21 ice storm, which cost the region at least $275 million, including $106 million for Toronto.

The resolution asks that the municipalities, the provincial government and the federal government each cover one-third of the costs from the storm that downed power lines and left 600,000 customers without power in Ontario.

The document also asks the provincial government and the federal government to treat all municipalities equally and to respond by March 1.

“We had a very productive meeting,” Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion said.

During the meeting, the mayors met with Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Linda Jeffrey who helped them understand the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP). She also told them that she has written to the federal government seeking assistance.

So far, 27 Ontario municipalities have applied for financial assistance under ODRAP but Jeffrey declined to say how much they could expect and acknowledged that it could be months before any money would be doled out.

She also told reporters that she spoke with both Mayor Rob Ford and Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, describing their conversations as “productive.”

“My goal was to have a conversation with Toronto and I did that today,” she said.

After the meeting, Ford raised his hand when one reporter asked if any mayors thought Premier Kathleen Wynne should have attended the meeting and he took a dig at her Friday visit to Niagara Falls saying, “I think this is more important than a byelection right now.” He also had reservations about the mayors meeting with Jeffrey, saying he’d go to the top first.

“My approach might be different than other mayors but I’m representing the largest city,” he said.

McCallion requested the meeting last week, saying the municipalities would all have a better chance of getting some disaster relief money from the province if they united around a master plan, rather than presenting individual cases carrying various costs.

“The old story: divided we fall, united we stand,” McCallion told 680News on Friday morning.

She said one of the main goals of the meeting was to ask Jeffrey what the consequences of declaring their regions a “disaster zone” really means when it comes to funding.

“[What] the outcome of that is, in other words, when we declare a disaster and apply, we thoroughly understand the basis on which we can secure funding. Otherwise, the property tax … no way can it bear the cost of disasters such as ice storms, floods, etc.,” she added.

680News political affairs specialist John Stall spoke with Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion in advance of the meeting. Listen to the full interview below:

[Download] (To download: Right click – Save as)

The Dec. 21, 2013, ice storm brought down hydro poles and tree limbs and left 300,000 customers without power for days.

Toronto city officials say the costs for the GTA could top $250 million for the region, with cleanup costs in Toronto alone estimated at $106 million.

The unprecedented ice storm wreaked havoc on many parts of the province, including Mississauga and Brampton, which estimate cleanup and recovery costs will be $25 million and $51 million, respectively.

City officials in Vaughan estimate the ice storm will cost $21 million.

With files from John Stall and Kevin Misener, 680News

Article source: http://www.citynews.ca/2014/01/17/gta-regional-mayors-meet-to-discuss-ice-storm-relief/

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