By Chris Pickup

Haldimand county has spent $1.2 million in unbudgeted funds to respond to and begin repairing the massive infrastructure damage caused by the vicious storm that ripped into the lakeshore October 31.

Staff has been tracking damage through a special ledger, and additional funds of more than $3.6m are needed to bring county assets at some 35 sites back to pre-storm condition, CAO Craig Manley told council in committee Tuesday.

The county will now ask the province to activate the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance (MDRA) program. Under the program eligible costs up to 3% of the municipal taxation level ($2,016,232) would be shared at a maximum 75% by the province and 25% of municipal funding. Over 3% it is a maximum 95% / 5% share. Deadline to apply is February 28 this year.

If the maximums are paid by the province, the total municipal share amounts to some $646,000 which is not included in the 2019 operating budget and funding would have to be sourced. If provincial funding is any less, the problem worsens.

Now it’s a waiting game. Mayor Hewitt had hoped to get a meeting with the Minister of Infrastructure with Norfolk and Six Nations at this weekend’s ROMA conference, but was unsuccessful.

Councillor Corbett asked what was happening on the private front. The county had requested on November 4 that the province activate the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians (DRAO). That program required homeowners to apply directly to the province, with no municipal role. 

There have been no answers on that yet, Manley said. “We have done what we can to activate the program, but there’s a logjam at the province.