The province announced new money Wednesday for cities impacted by the ice storm, and Hamilton wants to get its hands on some of it.
The city incurred about $19 million in damages from the late December ice storm. It doesn’t know how much of the money — if any — Hamilton will get of the $190 million pledged by the province. But the city is likely to get some, Coun. Brad Clark said.
“I believe we will qualify,” said Clark, who represents Ward 9 in Stoney Creek.
The one-time assistance program is “incredibly rare. I would say unprecedented."
Coun. Sam Merulla told council Wednesday that he’s happy to see the money, even if it’s likely timed ahead of a provincial election.
Political motivation doesn't really matter as long as Hamilton gets its share, said Coun. Scott Duvall of Ward 7.
“We’ve had so much damage done and we were wondering which budget we were going to get it from," he said. "This is tremendous news."
Portions of Hamilton were without power for as long as five days after a storm that walloped Hamilton and the GTA. The storm hit just ahead of Christmas, and some of Ontario’s 800,000 who lost power were in the dark for more than a week.
The program will reimburse municipalities for costs such as the operation of warming centres and the clearing of storm-related debris. The money will be distributed among 32 towns and cities that asked for help in the wake of the storm.
Council asked for help in January.
The city has spent $19 million, including $5.6 million through Horizon Utilities, of which the city is a shareholder. The Hamilton Conservation Authority spent $90,000, and that’s included in the city total too.
The city is keeping in touch with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to learn more about the eligible costs, and how much might come to Hamilton, said finance head Mike Zegarac.
The province also distributed grocery store gift cards in Hamilton for low-income residents who lost food during the power outage.