Jan 09, 2014

By Scott Walker

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Last month’s ice storm was certainly disastrous to many.

But does it qualify as an official disaster?

City staff would like to think so. The cost of the cleanup has escalated to $106-million from the original estimate of $75-million. The city is already on the hook for last summer’s flooding to the tune of $65-million. Declaring a disaster would allow Toronto to apply for provincial assistance.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly says the twin storms have put a strain on Toronto’s finances, and it makes sense to combine the two disasters to get help from the province.

But some councillors are questioning how the city can justify declaring a disaster when it didn’t declare an emergency at the height of the ice storm. Shelley Carroll says she believes an emergency declaration might have shortened the long wait time for people in her ward to be re-connected to the power grid.

That will become part of the debate when City Council holds a special meeting on the ice storm tomorrow.

Other GTA municipalities are also going to ask the province for help. Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion wants all GTA mayors to apply together to strengthen their request.

Disaster declaration or no, there is no guarantee the province will agree to chip in.

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