City calculating how much ice storm cleanup will cost

City staff say it could take up to a month to clean up the city after last week's ice storm. But no word yet on how much it will cost taxpayers.
John McDonald at East 45th and Lupin Avenue didn't lose power but three trees came down in his yard. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

The city expects post-ice storm cleanup to last for the next month, but the cost is still unknown.

Forestry crews are out on Monday clearing and chopping up branches in the areas hardest hit by last week’s wicked weather, said Mike Kirkopolous, the city’s manager of communications.

There have been 2,244 requests for cleanup since rain and snow turned to ice last Saturday night.

“Most efforts are being paid where most of the damage is,” he said.

Crews are focusing on the central and east Mountain and Flamborough — which Coun. Judi Partridge of Ward 14 was pleased to hear.

I’ve never seen anything like it.- Coun. Judi Partridge.

“It’s a mess,” she said of her ward, particularly Carlisle, Millgrove and Freelton. “The damage is so overwhelming.”

Looking out into her own backyard in Carlisle, Partridge described huge fallen branches piled along her property line. Out the front window, a six-metre line of branches piled more than a metre high waits for pick-up crews.

“Still today, the buzz saws are going,” she said. “This isn’t something we’re able to pick up in a few hours.”

Despite Kirkopolous’s clean-up projection of about a month, Partridge believes it’s going to take longer than that.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said.

Some of Partridge’s constituents just had their power restored Sunday, leaving them in the dark for a full week. But her residents are in good spirits.

“People are banding together and cleaning up,” Partridge said.

They have also found creative ways to slow-cook a pot roast on the barbecue. They ate by candlelight.

“It’s humbling,” she said.

Kirkopolous said the city isn’t sure how much clean up will ultimately cost. Toronto projects that each day of cleanup is costing the city about $1 million.

“We’re in the process of pulling that together,” he said. “We’re still in preliminary stages.”

Horizon Utilities, who had employees working around the clock and hired extra contractors to remove tree branches, also won’t ballpark a cost to date, said spokesperson Larry Roberts.

Kirkopolous said the city will look into how much, if any, funding Hamilton can get from the province.

Coun. Sam Merulla also gave notice of motion Monday to ask city staff to determine if Hamilton is eligible for funding under the Ontario Disaster and Relief Assistance Program.

City crews will pick up collected branches placed curb side that are 1.2 metres (four feet) or shorter and seven centimetres in diameter or smaller. Pick up for storm debris will continue for as long as needed, Partridge said.

If branches are larger than the specifications, Kirkopolous said residents can call 546-CITY and request a pick-up from forestry crews.

Waste collection won’t happen on New Year’s Day (Wednesday), but any garbage or tree debris will be picked up the day after your scheduled day this week.


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