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Hazel to play host as GTA mayors draw up battle plan for disaster funding appeal

January 11, 2014

Mississauga News

MISSISSAUGA — Mayor Hazel McCallion said this morning she’ll host the mayors of GTA communities next Friday at the Living Arts Centre to formulate a plan for seeking disaster funds from the federal and provincial governments.

GTA municipalities need the financial aid after being hammered by last month’s vicious ice storm.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing says five GTA councils, including Mississauga, have passed motions to declare their municipalities disaster zones and that more municipalities have called special meetings to review similar motions. The Ministry said it will work with the municipalities to review their eligibility for the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program, once they receive their requests.

Ministry officials say they understand the “significant scope of the storm” and they’re currently reviewing all options to see how the province can help.

Eastern Ontario municipalities received $178 million in federal and provincial aid following the 1998 ice storm.

Mississauga councillors have already heard that the initial cost to the municipality from the ice storm was about $3.4 million — and that number will soar much higher as they deal with all the damaged trees. Long term, the city could be facing from $16.6 million to $21.6 million in additional costs for the pruning, removal and replanting of trees affected by the storm.

This morning, McCallion told CFB radio host John Moore “we can come together to determine how we can put together a package to submit to the federal and provincial governments”

This comes two days after city councillors passed a motion calling on Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Linda Jeffrey to declare Mississauga a disaster area so residents can get help from the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program.

Yesterday, meanwhile, Peel’s three municipalities annoyed they will be banding together to press Queen’s Park for financial help.

Yesterday, Region of Peel Council heard that the cost to Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon as well as conservation authorities is estimated at about $83 million.

During a special meeting of Peel council to deal with the ice storm, McCallion called on all leaders of GTA municipalities to work together to lobby Queen’s Park for aid. The mayor said if municipalities want a chance to get access to funding, they have to come together as a group.

“We need to go to the Province with a co-ordinated approach rather than as individuals,” said McCallion. “We go to the Province with a united approach (with one total amount for the overall cost of storm cleanup) and then we hand them the bills.”

The provincial disaster relief program helps municipalities get back to normal after experiencing a natural disaster and is intended to cover the costs of returning essential items to pre-disaster condition.

If the City’s request is approved, the municipality would be required to set up a special disaster relief committee made up of members of the community (councillors aren’t eligible) and all funds raised for victims would be turned over to the committee. The ministry could match raised money up to a two-to-one ratio.

Mississauga News

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