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Toronto Peel region seeks provincial funds for storm cleanup

Sparrows sit on ice covered branches in Mississauga on Dec. 23.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Brampton, Mississauga and Caledon whose boulevards and and front lawns are still strewn with debris from the the Dec. 22 ice storm, are seeking provincial funds to cover the cost of cleanup.

City councils in Brampton and Mississauga unanimously passed motions Wednesday asking Ontario's minister of municipal affairs to consider their cities "disaster areas" so they can tap in to the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program. The Town of Caledon has not yet requested funds but plans to do so in coordination with its neighbouring cities and the Region of Peel, a town spokeswoman said.

While the long-term cost of cleanup has not yet been determined, it's estimated at between $16.6- and $26.6-million in Mississauga and at more than $51-million in Brampton. Caledon has yet to calculate a projected long-term cost but immediate damage is assessed at $557,000. The immediate cost of cleanup in Mississauga has been $3.4-million.

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Toronto city council is holding a special meeting on Friday on ice storm recovery, where it is expected to move to seek financial aid from the province. The cost of Toronto's cleanup has been pegged at more than $75-million.

While the city of Mississauga is managing the pick-up of tree debris on public land and the Region of Peel is removing it on regional roads, residents and property owners are responsible for fallen trees on private property.

"The message I've given out as mayor is keep the debris on your own property, please don't move it out onto the road," said Mayor Hazel McCallion. "What's the big rush? I've got a few branches down in my backyard and they're quite pretty."

In Brampton, city workers will be in it for the long haul to repair damage: staff project it will be three to four months before damaged trees that hang over roads and sidewalks are taken care of and a year and a half before ones in parks and along the water are tended to.

Ms. McCallion along with Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell and Caledon Mayor Marolyn Morrison will attend a Peel Regional Council meeting on Jan. 9 to debate which portion of costs will be the responsibility of the region. In Wednesday's Mississauga council meeting, Ms. McCallion repeatedly referenced damage in the two neighbouring municipalities and stressed the need for a coordinated approach in seeking provincial funds.

None of the municipalities declared a state of emergency following the storm, but in a statement, Brampton chief administrative officer John Corbett said "the extent of storm damages and associated costs are extraordinary" and "assistance is required to address the significant longer term impact."

Mississauga council also passed a motion asking the provincial and federal governments to establish new relief programs that tackle climate change-related disasters such as flooding, winter storms and erosion.

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