TORONTO - Toronto's city council voted Monday in favour of asking for disaster relief to help cover the cost of last month's ice storm.
During the second day of their special meeting, councillors voted unanimously to ask both the province and Ottawa to each pony up one-third of the cost of cleanup.
It also voted to ask the Ontario government to declare Canada's largest city a "disaster area" — a move required to qualify for funding to deal with the havoc wreaked by two major storms in 2013.
The recommendation was made by city staff who advised Toronto to seek financial help from Ontario and the federal government for the combined $171-million damage bill from the storms.
That figure includes at least $106 million in damage from the ice storm and $65.2 million in costs related to a severe rainstorm on July 8 that flooded parts of the city.
Toronto's request must first go to the provincial government which decides if disaster assistance is warranted and how much it can reasonably pay, said Jean Paul Duval, spokesman for Public Safety Canada.
The province could then go to the federal government to seek funding under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements if eligible expenditures exceed $1 per person, based on provincial population.
Eligible expenses include restoring public works and infrastructure to their pre-disaster condition, as well as replacing or repairing basic, essential personal property of individuals, small businesses and farms.
Ontario refused to help Toronto with costs related to the rain storm that swamped parts of the city.
But the Ministry of Municipal Affairs has said it would take the cost of the flood damage into account when assessing the city's request for help with the cost of the ice storm cleanup.
The ministry said it won't determine if communities are eligible for Ontario's Disaster Relief Assistance Program until it gets formal requests for help.
The storm impacted dozens of other communities in Ontario and officials have said the total bill from all the affected municipalities could top $250 million.
At least four Ontario municipal councils — Brampton, Mississauga, Caledon, and North Perth — have already voted on motions asking for their municipalities to be declared as disaster areas.
Toronto did not declare a state of emergency during the ice storm which downed hydro lines, cut power to hundreds of thousands and stalled road and air travel for days.
Mayor Rob Ford — who late last year had many of his powers stripped from him by council — repeatedly said he did not see the need to declare an emergency.
(AM640, The Canadian Press)
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