Municipalities STILL Waiting For Ice Storm Assistance

TOMevent-9595Its now been over a year since Milton and other surrounding municipalities dealt with the most incredible ice storm of a life time.  Lives were put on hold and hundreds of thousands of dollars damage done.  There are some areas of the province which still show the effects of Ice Storm 2013.

At that time, town resources were stretched to the limit.  Milton Hydro staff as well as many others were working around the clock to restore power to affected areas.  Most of the residential parts of Milton were back up and running rather quickly.  However, our rural area was left in darkness and cold for several days.

It was at that time there was a stampede of provincial representatives, including our Premier, who pledged support and assured municipalities they would receive the financial support they needed.  That was 2013 … mere weeks before 2014.

As we get closer to New Years Eve for 2015…nothing has happened.  With the exception of one municipality, no other town or city has received the assistance it was promised.  The clock is ticking on the deadline for filing paperwork.  December 31st is the deadline and according to the Milton Canadian Champion article and our Milton staff, we will be getting those applications in.  But what happens after that?

At our first council meeting of this term, we received a report from staff on a number of budget items and the projection of a deficit for the Town of Milton in 2014.  In that report it mentions the lack of financial support from the province for the ice storm costs.  Total costs from the ice storm for the Town of Milton are estimated at $2 million and any support promised by the province would be helpful in improving our financial position in this fiscal year as well as the next one.

In a few weeks, Milton Town Council will be reviewing the 2015 budget and we will be making decisions based on our current position as well as the outlook for 2015. It would be good if we had this information before making those decisions.  Here is an article from The Milton Canadian Champion and Rachel Williams with more details.

Town of Milton seeking ice storm compensation as application deadline approaches

By Rachael Williams

December 21 marked the one-year anniversary of last winter’s vicious ice storm and Milton is still waiting for compensation from the Province.

Trees were toppled, thick ice damaged hydro wires and streets were inaccessible as more than 20 cm of freezing rain and snow dumped on Southern Ontario around this time last year. The Town of Milton incurred more than $2 million in damages and to date, hasn’t received any funding from the Ice Storm Assistance Program to assist with the clean-up.

“So often governments are first in line to the podium to say they are going to help but when it comes to the details it’s another story,” Councillor Mike Cluett told the Champion.

The $2 million includes damage to municipally-owned equipment, equipment rental costs, clearing and removal of debris and wreckage, overtime for employees, emergency communication measures, the repair and restoration of parks, roads and infrastructure and operating costs for the Milton Sports Centre to operate as an evacuation and warming centre.

The reason for the delay, according to Linda Leeds, the Town’s director of corporate services and treasurer, is that the application process is “extremely onerous.”

Leeds said the Town needed to supply complete documentation to the Province, including all source documents substantiating any costs incurred. This includes log sheets, time sheets and individual pay cheques to show that employees were paid for their work. The information then needs to be cross-referenced, put into a certain type of file format (PDF), encrypted because the data is confidential and sent away to the Province.

Staff have already dedicated 325 hours compiling and completing the application, Leeds said.

The provincial government hired a consulting team, Landlink Consulting Ltd., to train municipalities on how to fill out the applications — a process that just took place in November. This alone cost $2.8 million.

“There is nothing wrong with being accountable, but when you hire a consultant just to have all the municipalities in Southern Ontario jump through hoops, I question the mentality of that,” said Mayor Gord Krantz.

The deadline for submissions is December 31.  

“Staff are actively making sure we meet the deadline. The Province is getting some of the money from the federal government so a lot of these requirements are necessary in order to meet federal auditing standards,” said Leeds.

The Ice Storm Assistance Program requires the Province to cover municipal costs and then apply to Ottawa to receive compensation, according to the office of Ted McMeekin, minister of municipal affairs and housing.

The Province has allocated $190 million to the Ice Storm Assistance Program.

“It has not been clearly communicated how the applications will be evaluated, nor do we know how the funds that are available will be distributed so the timing and quantum that the Town may receive in aid is unknown,” said Leeds.

Cluett pointed out that with a deficit forecasted for Milton in 2014, these funds would go a long way in helping the Town’s financial position.

“We can only wait and see if we get anything from the Province,” he said.

Leeds predicts the Town won’t have any answers until well into 2015.

Rachael Williams can be reached at and on Twitter @MiltonReports.

Update on Louis St Laurent Opening

As Christmas time approaches we are all asked…what would you like for Christmas?  I know the answer of many residents on the west side of Milton…more options to get across town.

The Louis St Laurent extension from Bronte St to Savoline has been slated to be completed by the end of the year.  As those days got closer, so did the build of anticipation from residents and councillors alike.  So much that Ward 8 Councillor and I took a walk along the road mere moments before it was officially opened.

As we get more information on when it will be further opened to Tremaine Road, we will keep you informed.

Until then…Merry Christmas!

Changes to the way we vote!

I was speaking to a few people while door knocking yesterday who brought up some interesting questions.  It made me realize that the changes to the way we vote municipally in Milton haven’t been communicated as well as they should.

First off they thought there were two councillors elected, as it was the last time around.  That has changed.

With the ward boundary review complete, starting with this election there are no longer 4 wards.  There are now 8 wards.  Now instead of electing two councillors per ward we elect just one.  You have one choice for each position.  For example, you would cast one vote for local councillor in ward 6 (preferably for Mike Cluett).

As the election date draws closer, people are beginning to see a number of signs appear on our lawns and roadways.  There are a number of positions up for grabs on October 25th and they are the following.

  • Mayor (one to be elected)
  • Regional Councillor Wards 1,6,7,8 (one to be elected)
  • Local Councillor for each ward (one to be elected)
  • Public School Board Trustee (one to be elected)
  • Separate School Board Trustee (one to be elected)

There isn’t a race this year for Regional Chair as Gary Carr was acclaimed and will serve another 4 years.

I have some information on my Election 2010 page regarding the boundaries of ward 6, polling locations and advance poll dates as well.  Click on ELECTION 2010 to see where you will cast your ballot on or before the 25th.

So, my friends and neighbours in Ward 6 will see a number of signs popping up over the next couple of weeks.  They will contain a number of names running for the other positions and its important you do some research, check websites, call the candidates and read their literature that comes to the door.  Hopefully the candidate will see the importance of visiting you face to face, as I have over the last several months – and continue to do up until election day and beyond.

Hopefully later today or tomorrow, the candidate speeches from TV Cogeco will be online and I’ll make sure I get my 3 minutes of fame up on the website for you to see.

Remember to do your homework and ask the tough questions of the candidates on what their vision of Milton is, and how they will get there.  Ive talked several times about my plan of action:

Financial Management – The first job of the new council will be to approve the 2011 budget.  Town staff has recommended a potential increase of 6.91%, that’s almost 3 times the rate of inflation!  This election, we need someone who will ask the tough questions and do what they can to keep the increase at or below the rate of inflation.

Neighbourhood Safety – Protecting our children is vitally important.  Milton Town Council needs to review speed limits in residential areas and look at other ways to control traffic such as crosswalks, traffic calming tools, radar boards and the promotion of a neighbourhood watch program.

Accountability – Your elected representative needs to be accountable to you!  My commitment is to continue to update my website with important information that you will need to stay informed as Milton changes.  I will also knock on doors, hold regular town hall meetings and issue newsletters in between election campaigns, not just during them.

Thank you to those who have shown their support for me up until today.  Thank you for putting a sign on your lawn to let your neighbours and friends know that you are supporting me this election.  For those who remain undecided, I am available for you if you’d like to chat about my plan and the ways we can help secure Milton’s future, together.

Until then, I’ll see you at the doors.