« At this time the provincial government is ignoring us, » said Ward 2 Councillor Ian Walker. « So I think it’s time we sent a strong letter to the government and ask for clarification on what they plan on doing. »
Walker’s comment followed council review September 6 of an updated report from administration on the local impact of the derecho, the violent windstorm that swept across Eastern Ontario during the May long weekend. There were no fatalities in the area as a result of the storm but the report noted that the derecho left « thousands of trees » toppled all across the township, blocking public roads and private driveway, causing blackouts by breaking power lines and poles, and leaving many residents either without electricity or dependent on portable generators to keep their lights on and their fridges, freezers, and stoves working.
Township works crews and other staff provided extra assistance to local homeowners through collection and disposal of tree branches and stumps cleared away from driveways, buildings and property. That was in addition to overtime scheduling to clear roads of fallen trees, which helped Hydro crews with their own job of repairing damaged power poles and lines to restore electricity to the villages and rural neighbourhoods.
So far the clean-up cost to the municipality is more than $523,000. That expense is not covered in the 2022 budget and the township will apply for provincial aid through the Municipal Disaster Recovery Program (MDR).
Council approved a recommendation from administration to apply to the relief program before the September 19 deadline. The township could get between 75 per cent to 95 per cent of its clean-up costs reimbursed through the MDR program if its application is accepted.
The $523,000 cost for the township does not include storm damage to 34 municipal buildings and other pieces of infrastructure. That amounts to more than $148,000. Administration expects the township’s municipal insurance policy will cover almost all of that, minus a $10,000 deductible charge.
But Councillor Walker and other members of council want to know what specific disaster relief aid is available for private woodlot owners and householders whose insurance may not cover the cost of damage to their property. Chief Administrator Michel Potvin told council that a separate disaster relief program exists for private landowners but there is no word about whether the province has activated it or not.
That prompted Councillor Walker to propose sending a letter to Queens Park demanding whether or not private property owners will get any help from the province for storm damage to their property.
« If they’re not going to give us the help, they should tell us that, » said Walker. « If they are going to give us help, they should tell us that too. But ignoring us is not an option. »
Council voted to have administration draft a letter to send to the provincial government and also look at getting support from other municipalities for the resolution.