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Ice storm recovery cash stalled by complex claims process, municipal officials say
Dec. 5, 2014
By Adam Martin-Robbins

It’s been almost a year since the devastating ice storm ripped through Vaughan and much of southern Ontario, but the city has yet to seek financial assistance through the province’s $190-million aid program to offset its projected $18.1-million cleanup and repair bill.

Of course, Vaughan isn’t alone.

Out of the 53 municipalities eligible for funding through the Ice Storm Assistance Program, only one, the Township of Mapleton in Wellington County, has submitted an official claim to help cover the cost of the damage caused by the storm, which swept through southern Ontario between Dec. 21 and Dec. 22.

Many municipalities say the reason it’s taking them so long to seek assistance is that the province’s claims process is extremely complex.

Vaughan officials say the city received provincial claim forms on Sept. 15.

The province provided training on how to complete the application, which requires detailed records for a significant volume of expenses, in the middle of November - after municipalities convinced Queen's Park to extend the original Oct. 31 deadline.

City staff are now working through the application process and though the final amount of Vaughan’s claim has yet to be determined, it is expected to seek $10 million to $11 million, according to John Henry, Vaughan’s commissioner of finance and city treasurer.

Vaughan was one of the hardest hit municipalities.

Thick ice downed power lines, leaving some residents in the dark for days, toppled thousands of trees and turned some local streets into skating rinks.

The storm’s impact on the city’s coffers has been pegged at more than $18 million; about $7.2 million of that total is to replace 11,000 severely damaged trees.

The provincial assistance program won’t cover that cost as it only reimburses municipalities and conservation authorities for measures taken to protect public health and safety as well as to provide access to roads, sidewalks and frequently travelled routes.