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190M payout for ice storm

(Updated)Many towns and cities in our area are still cleaning up the damage left behind in the December ice storm that razed power lines and trees across much of Southern Ontario. Wednesday, the province said it would help pay for the costs of that clean up; in fact, it will pay 100% of costs it deems eligible.But opposition members are asking what ice storm costs are eligible for provincial funding?32 municipalities have asked the province to help pay for ice storm clean up including Hamilton, Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills. For the past five weeks, since mayors met with the municipal affairs minister, provincial disaster assessment teams have been touring affected areas and making recommendations based on the severity and nature of the damage. The information they’ve collected leads the province to believe it will be paying out about 190 million in disaster relief. But that number is flexible.At the height of the ice storm, more than 800 thousand Ontarians had no power. Up to 30 millimetres of ice coated trees and power lines; in many cases bringing them to the ground. To make matters worse, temperatures remained frigid.Linda Jeffrey is the municipal affairs minister. “What made it extraordinary was the duration and size of the storm. The effects were substantial. Our response will also be substantial.”The minister says it’s too early to say how much each individual municipality will qualify for. Costs that will be covered include extra policing, warming centres, and cleaning up debris.Jeffrey said. “We would not make eligible any costs related to lost revenues, or staff’s regular hours. This includes things like overtime. The initial numbers from municipalities are estimates. Now we have a better predictor. I think most will be pleased with this response.”Opposition parties say this money won’t help cities weather the next storm.NDP’s Peter Tabuns says. “It’s clear the government is negligent in preparing for weather and this doesn’t prepare us for another round of extreme weather.”Progressive Conservative Lisa MacLeod says. “The one time funding, we’ll just see how it rolls out. Not clear everyone will get what they want.”The mayors gave the minister a March 1 deadline to come up with a plan — so this did come a little early. Jeffrey said she’s asked Ottawa to help cover some of these costs and she’s waiting for a response. read more