City council holds special meeting to discuss storm relief from province
Archive 2014 Jan 13, 2014 Joyita Sengupta
(Toronto Hydro CEO, Anthony Haines, shows a presentation during a special city council meeting regarding the December ice storm.- PHOTO by Joyita Sengupta)
Toronto city councillors and staff met for a special meeting Friday regarding the December 22nd ice storm that left around 1 million residents of the city without power for up to 9 days.
The meeting was held to ask the province for $60 million in funding for ice storm cleanup efforts as well as the costs incurred after the July 8th storm, which caused flooding and power outages.
According to city manager, Joe Pennachetti, the estimated cost of both storms combined is in excess of $171 million. Pennachetti hopes to apply for the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP), a provincial initiative to help municipalities recover from natural disasters.
“To be eligible, we have to declare a disaster area. We have to declare a natural disaster,” said Pennachetti at the special meeting.
At the meeting, councillors had their chance to ask the city manager, Toronto Hydro, and other city staff questions of their own and of their constituents.
“There are 1 million councillors on the list to ask questions,” joked deputy speaker John Parker, in the midst of proceedings.
Councillor Peter Milczyn raised the issue of individuals that suffered losses not covered by their insurance and whether the city could provide aid or reimbursement.
“Right now we don’t have a hard recommendation for that,” Pennachetti responded. “We would have to amend our current recommendation.”
Many councillors had questions for Toronto Hydro CEO, Anthony Haines. Councillor Crawford asked whether some parts of her ward in southwest Scarborough had been overlooked despite losing power.
“We got a pretty clear profile of where we had the problems,” said Haines. “We got down to a point where we had 1000 or so left. We had a pretty good view all throughout the process.”
A decision has not been reached on the recommendations to be made to the Province. A disaster must be declared before Tuesday January 14th in order for the city to be eligible for ODRAP.
Mayor Rob Ford suggested the meeting resume the next morning instead of this Monday, January 13th.
“We have met on a Saturday before,” said the mayor.
The motion was denied in order to accommodate councillors and city staff that observe the Jewish Sabbath, from sun down Friday night until sun down the following day.
The meeting will reconvene 11 a.m. Monday morning with plans of reaching a final decision on the request for provincial disaster aid.