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Coun. Ford calls continued debate over ice storm compensation 'political grandstanding'

As city councillors prepare to resume their debate over seeking provincial funding for the ice storm and July’s flood, one councillor says it’s time to stop talking and get the job done.

Debate over the issue began at a special council meeting on Friday. Mayor Rob Ford moved to continue Friday’s meeting on Saturday, but the request was turned down citing the need to observe the Jewish Sabbath.

Coun. Doug Ford says the continued debate is “political grandstanding.”

“It’s a shame that these politicians go out there and try to pull the wool over people’s eyes,” he said. “Lets cut to the chase. Lets ask for the money and lets move forward and get the job done. But that’s typical councillors at City Hall.”

Coun. Ford says council should it’s time to talk to the other levels of government.

“What we should be doing is going in there, asking for money from the federal and provincial government,” he explained. “It will be up to the premier if they’re going to help out the people of Toronto and the GTA area.”

A report presented to the city last week showed the cost of the clean up from the ice storm and last July’s flood is $171 million.

Both city manager Joe Pennachetti and Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly would like to see the province, the federal government and the city each bear one third of the cost of recovering from the storms.

“I’m optimistic,” Pennachetti stated. “I believe the other levels of government are understanding the situation.”

Kelly said he is confident the province will deliver on their promise to help.

“I’m sure they would want to do the best for not only their premier’s city but for the heart of the province and that’s the GTA,” he said.

On Monday councillors will continue to ask question of city staff including if the city didn’t declare the ice storm an emergency how can it ask for disaster relief.

Pennachetti said the two are not linked.

“The province repeatedly told staff that its assistance was not dependent upon the declaration of an emergency,” he explained.

The province had already denied funding for the July storm, but Pennachetti said that in recent negotiations with the Ontario government, staff agreed that qualifications for disaster relief funding were out of date.

“ODRAP [Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program] is legislation from the ‘50s and ‘60s and it is geared toward smaller municipalities,” Pennachetti said.

The Dec. 21, 2013, ice storm left 300,000 Toronto residents without power, some of them for 12 days. The $106-million ice storm bill includes nearly $13 million just for Toronto Hydro.

Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines said Friday that the storm was one of the worst in the utility’s 100-year history, when measured by both number of customers that were affected and the time it took to restore power.

The city has until Tuesday to request assistance from the province.