Hamilton wants in on ice storm gift card program

The province is teaming up with grocery stores to hand out gift cards to low-income Toronto residents who lost food during the ice storm. And Hamilton city hall wants the same.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announces a compensation plan for people who lost food to spoilage during last week's ice storm. (Genevieve Tomney/CBC)

The province is teaming up with grocery stores to hand out gift cards to low-income Toronto residents who lost food during the ice storm, and Hamilton city hall wants the same.

The mayor’s office has contacted Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office to see how the city can participate in the gift card program, said Peggy Chapman, chief of staff to Mayor Bob Bratina.

“We are actively trying to find out how Hamilton can participate,” Chapman said.

The status quo can’t prevail. The power goes off far too often now.- Coun. Sam Merulla

About 35,000 Hamilton homes lost power last weekend when an ice storm pummelled the area. Some customers, such as those in parts of Glanbrook and Ancaster, were without power for days.

In the hardest hit areas of north Flamborough, some spent Christmas in the dark.

In Toronto, as many as 300,000 customers were without power at the peak of the outage. Some still don’t have it back.

The province will match corporate donations to a maximum of $100,000, Wynne said in a media conference Monday. Shoppers Drug Mart, Metro and Sobeys also donated $25,000.

The Daily Bread Food Bank will distribute the gift cards at Toronto Ontario Works offices. Eligible families will get a $100 gift card and individuals a $50 gift card.

Toronto stepped forward asking for the program, Wynne said. But the province is willing to work with other cities too.

Hamilton is interested, and city staff has contacted Wynne, Chapman said. Staff aren't sure how many Hamilton residents might need such a program.

Meanwhile, Coun. Sam Merulla will introduce a motion at a Jan. 15 general issues committee to ask for disaster relief money for the city. He also wants the city to investigate how to reduce power outages.

In some European jurisdictions, he said, law dictates that power cannot be out for more than six hours without a penalty to utility companies.

The power goes out too often, the Ward 4 councillor said.

“The status quo can’t prevail,” he said. “The power goes off far too often now. It’s becoming far more prevalent.”


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