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Council votes unanimously to ask for provincial, federal funding for storm costs

A tree brought down in an ice storm lies across the roof of a car in Ajax on Dec. 22, 2013. 680NEWS/Anne Lavrih

Toronto council has voted unanimously to ask the provincial and federal governments for $114 million in financial assistance to cover cleanup and recovery costs associated with the two big storms of 2013: the ice storm and the July 8 flood.

It also voted 39 in favour to declare Toronto a disaster area in order to apply for funding under the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP). Click here to view the motion.

Councillors, who resumed their meeting on Monday, must declare Toronto a “disaster area” by Tuesday so that it can qualify for provincial funding under ODRAP. CityNews is live stream the meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Click here to view it.

But the united front quickly unravelled as Mayor Rob Ford ruffled the feathers of other councillors, suggesting they weren’t around much during the first 10 critical days of the ice storm.

Coun. Karen Stintz, who plans to run for mayor, took Ford to task over his leadership asking him why he didn’t declare a state of emergency.

Ford in return asked her where she was during that time. He also accused Norm Kelly of being MIA throughout the crisis, which the deputy mayor angrily denied.

The cost of both storms totals $171 million. City manager Joe Pennachetti and Kelly would like to see the province, the federal government and the city each bear one-third of the cost.

During the first part of the special meeting on Friday, Pennachetti said that Toronto should also be compensated for the July 8 rain storm, which cost the city $65 million.

In Ontario, the city could get funds under ODRAP to cover damage to public infrastructure and buildings, as well as extra city spending needed to deal with the storm. The program can also help private citizens pay for food, shelter and essential clothing.

If the ODRAP isn’t available to Toronto, Pennachetti recommends that council ask the provincial and federal governments to establish new programs to help rehabilitate city infrastructure.

The Dec. 21 ice storm wreaked havoc on many parts of the province, including Mississauga and Brampton, which estimate cleanup and recovery costs will be $25 million and $51 million, respectively. Toronto city officials have said the overall cost of the ice storm to the GTA could be $250 million.

Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion, who will meet with Ford and GTA mayors on Friday, said she wants all affected municipalities to ask the province for financial help together.

Should the province and federal governments help with the cleanup costs? Share your thoughts in the comments.