NEWS

Ice storm: council to discuss disaster funding today

01/10/2014 06:08 EST | Updated 03/12/2014 05:59 EDT
Toronto city council will hold for a special meeting today to discuss the possibility of asking the federal and provincial government for funding to help with the $106 million in estimated damage from last month's ice storm.

A city staff report recommended council ask the province to declare the city a "disaster area" to qualify for help to cover cleanup costs.

The designation would mean the city can ask the province for help under Ontario's Disaster Relief program.

City manager Joe Pennachetti has said property taxes will have to double if Toronto doesn't receive financial help.

Flood funding denied

The province turned Toronto down when the city applied for $65-million in disaster relief after July's flood.

Rob Ford said Friday he intends to move a motion at Friday's meeting to ask the province to help with the cleanup costs.

"We need some provincial and federal help, we cannot put this on the back of tax payers," Ford said.

The city manager said the city's situation is one of desperation.

"Obviously we would want an answer as quickly as possible, meaning I hope it's literally within a few weeks
we have to have some answers," he said.

The storm affected dozens of other Ontario communities and reports say the total bill from all the affected municipalities could top $250 million.

Financial assessment

The province has said it won't determine if communities are eligible for Ontario's Disaster Relief Assistance Program until it gets formal requests for help. The province said it needs a financial assessment of the damage from each municipality before it can determine if they qualify for help.

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said he hopes the Wynne government comes through with funding.

"All the premier has to do is walk down some of the streets in her own riding to understand how people feel," he said. "She doesn't need to look at legislation to see whether we qualify  for financial assistance."

Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey issued a statement this week, saying she is aware of Toronto's special council meeting and promised to work with the city to review its eligibility for the relief funds.

The province also said at least four local councils — Brampton, Mississauga, Caledon, and North Perth —have already voted on motions asking for their municipalities to be declared disaster areas, and that other councils have called special meetings to review similar motions.

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