Ice storm cleanup request approved by council
With council vote, city seeks $144M from federal, provincial governments
Toronto city council voted unanimously Monday to ask senior levels of government for relief money — $114 million in total — to help cover the cleanup costs of last month's ice storm and a rain storm that struck the city in July.
Council voted just before noon to seek $60 million from the province and the rest from the federal government. City staff had estimated costs from the ice storm cleanup alone would be about $106 million. A previous request for rain storm relief money was turned down by the province last summer.
The special meeting, which began on Friday, was called largely so the city could press both the federal and provincial governments for help. At its height on Dec. 22, the winter storm left some 300,000 Toronto Hydro customers without power — many for days in freezing weather — as ice-laden trees and branches took out overhead power lines.
With Monday's vote, Toronto council is essentially declaring the city a "disaster area" to free up funds. Tuesday is the deadline to apply for the provincial funds, and Ford had accused council members of using the special meeting to "grandstand" over the ice storm while the Tuesday deadline drew near.
'Grandstanding' talk upsets council members
At council, Coun. David Shiner said he took it "as a personal insult" to hear the mayor recently talking to the media about the councillors allegedly "grandstanding" over ice storm-related issues.
Deputy mayor Norm Kelly said on Monday that he's trying to build bridges with the mayor and added that Rob Ford's "grandstanding" comments don't help.
The tension between the mayor and his fellow councillors was evident during Monday’s meeting.
During one exchange with Coun. Karen Stintz, Ford prodded her to "admit" that he had "led the charge" during the storm.
"You know that. Admit that," Ford said.
"Sorry, I didn’t see you, Mr. Mayor, in my neighbourhood," Stintz said, as Ford began speaking at the same time.
Ford’s relations with his fellow council members have frayed since council voted to restrict the mayor’s powers in November in the wake of a drug-related scandal that made headlines around the world.
Yet Ford has endured in office, despite seeing his powers reduced, and has already registered to run for re-election this fall.