Hamilton ice storm cleanup won't be done until spring

It’ll be the end of March before the city cleans up all the fallen trees and branches toppled during the Dec. 21 ice storm.
It'll take at least another two months to clean up the massive debris caused by the Dec. 21 ice storm. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

It’ll be the end of March before the city cleans up all the fallen trees and branches toppled during the Dec. 21 ice storm. And in some areas, residents are getting anxious.

Crews are working six days a week to clean up tree limbs felled by the heavy ice. But they are still more than two months away from completion, said Gerry Davis, the city’s manager of public works.

“We have every available resource on it,” Davis told councillors during a special meeting Monday.

Councillors voted Monday to ask the province for money to help pay for the cleanup. They applauded staff for its hard work during the pre-Christmas storm, which left areas of Hamilton in the dark for as long as four days. But residents still have a lot of questions.

In north Flamborough, one of the hardest hit areas, residents are anxious to know when crews will be around, said Coun. Judi Partridge of Ward 15. Some have shown detailed schedules from other municipalities with the exact location of workers.

“My residents still want to know when the cleanup is going to happen, and where we are right now,” she said.

There is similar anxiety in upper Stoney Creek, said Coun. Brad Clark of Ward 9. He cited an elderly resident who lost 12 trees in the ice storm and can’t drag the debris to the road himself.

“I have homes where every tree around the residence is down,” he said. “We really should be getting a full report for the residents so they know what’s going on.”

Staff will come to council in February with an evaluation of the city’s ice storm response, city manager Chris Murray said.

Council passed a motion asking for Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP) money, or whatever program Wynne had in mind when she told the media that the government is “looking into where there might be the possibility to get some compensation.”

ODRAP funding is unlikely, Clark said. It is mainly for unorganized territories without financial reserves.

The city still doesn’t have an estimate of what the ice storm cost. But Clark said it’s often better not to list a dollar figure in case it ends up being inaccurate.

“It’s not prudent to throw numbers out there."

Since the storm, the city has received 3,675 calls about trees, and had 1,750 work orders.

Twenty crews are working five days a week to clean up the debris. Brush crews are also working Saturdays.

Residents should call the city at 905-546-CITY or email askcity@hamilton.ca if they have tree damage, branches or limbs that still need to be collected that they haven’t reported to the city yet.

Residents who can cut and bundle their brush into four-foot lengths can put it out as part of normal waste collection.

Once cleanup is finished, the city will focus on replanting trees to replace those lost in the storm.


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