Thunder Bay flood victims 'feel lied to'
Shortfall in provincial funding leaves many homeowners wondering how they'll pay for losses
Thunder Bay residents still waiting to hear if their claims for flood damage have been accepted are now learning the pot of available money won't be big enough.
And that has left some feeling misled.
"I know there are a lot of people that are counting on money," said East-end resident Jessica Sharpe, who lives in one of the areas hardest hit by the May 2012 flooding.
"And now it doesn't sound like there's going to be enough."
The city recently learned the province's mandated formula for calculating claims has come up with a total payout that's a fraction of the claims submitted.
The nearly 450 eligible claims came to about $4.2 million in losses, but the province said only $1.8 million should be paid out. That means the province will now kick in about $300,000 to the fund, in addition to the $1.5 million raised locally.
Disaster Relief Committee chair Wayne Fletcher said the committee is talking with the province to see if it can get more money for affected homeowners.
‘Committee was aware of the rules’
But the MPP for Thunder Bay-Atikokan said it will be hard to change the rules for the province's disaster relief funding.
Bill Mauro said he'll work for his constituents, but noted the committee knew the guidelines at the outset.
"The program is what the program is," he said.
"It's my understanding that the Disaster Relief Committee was aware of the rules and the funding requirements on a go-forward basis."
Sharpe said she worries many flood victims will be let down.
"I was there at St. Peters Church when the minister was there and said that they were gonna match us the money," she said.
"It sounded so much better than what has actually come out."
Sharpe said she is still waiting to hear if she qualifies for funding for a structural damage claim she made concerning her house.
"A lot of people are saying they feel like they've been lied to," she added.
"The people who donated the money — or raised the money — they donated thinking that the province was going to match this 2-to-1 … now to hear they're only doing 20 cents on the dollar. Some people are saying that it would have been better just to give money directly to the families in need."
Thunder Bay Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle said he wants to see the best possible funding result.
"There's been tremendous work done by the municipality and the disaster relief committee," he said.
"My urging of the minister [Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Linda Jeffrey] is to continue to work closely with [them] to try to see if we can have a more positive result than so far has been reported."