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2014-05-27 at 01:35

Committee dissolved

By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
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Nearly two years after it formed the city's disaster relief committee has dissolved and submitted its final report.

Now on the other side of fundraising $1.5 million and settling more than $2.3 million, through the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Plan's $807,000 contribution, in claims after the flood of May 2012, the committee made five recommendations for future councils. Chair Wayne Fletcher said most of it is procedural but important. A provincial representative is needed to help guide cities through the steep learning curve when dealing with the aftermath of a disaster. Sometimes it took months to get provincial approval after a decision was made in what was already a confusing process.

"We need some people form the province that can make decisions right at the table," he said.

Working through claims, the committee had no clear direction at first between what would be covered for private loss, like a couch, and public damage to city infrastructure. While everyone who made a claim got the maximum amount, it wasn't close to original estimates. Fletcher called the whole process rigid and restrictive sometimes.

"That number was way smaller than we ever imagined at the beginning," he said.

Yet through other provincial programs costs like the $5 million safe home initative were picked up.

Simple economics weren't taken into account by the province until the committee convinced them. Fletcher said reconstruction was a big example as estimates were being taken from larger communities where the prices were stable, not a place like Thunder Bay that faced millions of dollars in damage and a huge demand for contractors.

"They skyrocketed and it wasn't reflected well," he said.

Coun. Iain Angus said the system is flawed. It's wrong that a city would have to rely on its own fundraising initiatives in order to get provincial funding. And the money given was a paltry amount.

"It is totally inappropriate," he said.

Council also took the opportunity to applaud and thank Fletcher and the relief committee one last time.

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