Toronto Mayor Rob Ford puts forward a motion today that calls on the city to pay $30 million of the estimated $106 million cleanup cost of last month's ice storm, with a request for the provincial government to cover the rest.
The ice storm that struck days before Christmas initially left 300,000 Toronto Hydro customers without power as ice-laden trees and branches knocked out overhead power lines. Ford's motion asks senior government's to kick in a "minimum" of $60 million to cover cleanup costs.
The mayor's motion comes as council holds a special meeting to discuss storm fallout and how to cajole the province to pick up some part of the tab.
Earlier in the meeting, city manager Joe Pennachetti said ice storm costs combined with costs from last July's rain storm leave the city facing more than $171 million in storm-related costs.
The province turned Toronto down when the city applied for $65-million in disaster relief after July's flood.
Part of the process to get the province to pay for the ice storm is to declare the storm a 'natural disaster'. "It's a requirement," said Pennachetti during his presentation to council.
Pennachetti also told council that the city's access to the province's disaster fund, was not dependent on the city declaring a state of emergency during the ice storm.
The mayor has the power to declare a state of emergency but opted not to during the storm, saying it wouldn't help the immediate cleanup effort and cold incite panic.
Pennachetti has also said property taxes will have to double if Toronto doesn't receive financial help.
Rob Ford said Friday said the city can't cover the costs without government help.
"We need some provincial and federal help, we cannot put this on the back of tax payers," Ford said.
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The city manager said the city's situation is one of desperation.
"Obviously we would want an answer as quickly as possible, meaning I hope it's literally within a few weeks
we have to have some answers," he said.
The province has said it won't determine if communities are eligible for Ontario's Disaster Relief Assistance Program until it gets formal requests for help. The province said it needs a financial assessment of the damage from each municipality before it can determine if they qualify for help.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said he hopes the Wynne government comes through with funding.
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"All the premier has to do is walk down some of the streets in her own riding to understand how people feel," he said. "She doesn't need to look at legislation to see whether we qualify for financial assistance."
Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey issued a statement this week, saying she is aware of Toronto's special council meeting and promised to work with the city to review its eligibility for the relief funds.
The province also said at least four local councils — Brampton, Mississauga, Caledon, and North Perth —have already voted on motions asking for their municipalities to be declared disaster areas, and that other councils have called special meetings to review similar motions.