A city report is calling for Toronto to be declared a "disaster area" as a result of December's devastating ice storm, a move Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly hopes will help free up relief money from the provincial government.
The report also says the ice storm that hit Toronto and much of Southern and Eastern Canada just before Christmas, leaving hundreds of thousands without power for several days, will cost Toronto about $106 million. The original estimate was $75 million.
Declaring Canada's largest city a “disaster area” will help free up funds from Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP), according to the report.
“The scope and magnitude of this extreme winter storm was unprecedented,” the report read, mentioning damages to parks, infrastructure and lost revenue.
Kelly says the ice storm, combined with flooding in a July rainstorm that cost $65 million to clean up, represent a "double whammy" hit to the city's budget.
"When you add [the cost of both storms] together, it's a substantial amount of money," said Kelly. "It would really strain the resources of the city to pay the whole shot."
Kelly admits the city is asking for a "whack of money" but noted that "what you ask for and what you get are two different things."
Read the report here.
The report comes only two days before Friday’s special council meeting, where council is expected to ask the provincial and federal government for assistance.
“We understand that on Friday council will consider the report asking for Toronto to be declared a disaster area,” a letter from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said. “Should this report pass a council vote, our ministry will work with the city to review its eligibility for ODRAP.”
The ice storm, which began on Dec. 21, produced a large amount of freezing rain that coated the city, resulting in downed power lines from fallen trees.
At the peak of the power outages, more than 300,000 Toronto Hydro customers were without power. Many went days without power in freezing weather over the holidays.
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