The bill from the ice storm that paralyzed Toronto and left 300,000 customers without power is expected to cost $106 million, which officials say the city cannot foot on its own and will look to the province for help.
The $106-million price tag, which includes the $13 million Toronto Hydro incurred, is more than the previous estimate of $75 million for Toronto’s cleanup and recovery from the Dec. 21, 2013, ice storm.
And the city manager is recommending that council ask the province to declare the city a disaster zone in order to qualify for the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP).
“Without them approving that it was a disaster, we can’t even apply for assistance,” he said.
Including the cost of last summer’s unprecedented floods, the cleanup bill for the city is more than $170 million, Mayor Rob Ford said on Thursday.
He said the ice storm cleanup, which began last Friday, is going “extremely well” with one-quarter of the 160 zones cleared of debris and that the main issue now is the cost associated with the massive cleanup.
“At this point we need the province and federal government to step up and assist us with these cleanup costs,” Ford said.
He and city councillors will be dealing with this subject and the city manager’s recommendations at Friday’s special council meeting, which will be live streamed beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Ford said that the city has $30 million in reserve and will table a motion asking the province for another $60 million to deal with the winter storm. Even then, the city will still be out about $15-20 million, he said.
Officials say if the province doesn’t help Toronto residents could face a doubling in their property tax hike of 2.25 per cent this year.
If the ODRAP isn’t available to Toronto, Pennachetti recommends that council ask the provincial and federal governments to establish new programs to help rehabilitate city infrastructure.
The unprecedented ice storm wreaked havoc on many parts of the province, including Mississauga and Brampton, which estimate cleanup and recovery costs will be $25 million and $51 million, respectively.
Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion said she wants all affected municipalities to ask the province for financial help together. Ford said he has reached out to her to explore other options including a combined request for assistance from GTA mayors.
Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker said if the GTA municipalities are included, “we’re going to be into the hundreds of millions as a region.”
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs has said it can’t decide if communities are eligible for ODRAP until a formal application is made.
“Our Ministry will work with these municipalities to review their eligibility for ODRAP once we receive their requests,” the ministry said in a release Thursday. “Our Ministry understands the significant scope of the storm and we are currently reviewing all options to see how the province can best be of help.”
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