Demolition and building permit fees will be waived for Ottawans looking to rebuild after the deadly May 21 derecho, following a motion passed by city council on Wednesday.
A second motion asking Mayor Jim Watson to write to the province and have the city designated as an area “specifically affected by a natural disaster” to allow residents to apply for assistance with cleanup costs also passed. .
“Unfortunately, people learn the hard way what their insurance does and does not cover,” Cumberland County said. Catherine Kitts, who introduced both motions.
The counselor said she had heard quotes of up to $5,000 to remove a single tree, adding that the cost would only be covered if the tree hit a structure.
The windstorm “affected every corner of the city,” but hit certain areas particularly hard, Kitts said.
Farms, homes and businesses have suffered “absolutely devastating impacts” and will recover for a long time, according to the adviser. That’s why it’s “essential” to call on the province for help, Kitts told colleagues.
The disaster recovery assistance program for Ontarians can be activated after a “sudden and unexpected natural event,” the province’s website says. Eligible beneficiaries could be reimbursed for cleaning costs, replacement of essential goods and emergency expenses such as evacuation costs.
However, this does not replace insurance coverage and insurance payments are deducted from eligible costs, the website explains.
“I think a quick spin through one of the hardest hit neighborhoods would leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that this was a disaster,” Kitts said.
No building permit fees
Speaking on her motion to scrap the building code fee, she said it would pose an “additional hardship” for those coping with storm damage.
Council voted to suspend demolition fees and building permit fees, as well as fees to access historic building permit records and civic number blades – messages with numbers used to identify rural properties .
The storm will continue to be a topic of discussion at the next council meeting on June 22, when Hydro Ottawa is expected to present its annual report and several other councilors plan to present storm-related motions.
Prior to this meeting, the County of Rideau-Rockcliffe. Rawlson King tabled a notice of motion asking the CEO of Hydro Ottawa to provide a plan to improve communication with the community during extended power outages, including neighborhood specific information.
He also asks that the plan examine vulnerabilities in the local power grid and asks city staff to consider merging Hydro Ottawa’s crisis communications with city-run systems.
A motion from Innes Coun. Laura Dudas said faith groups and social organizations wanted to help in the aftermath of the storm, but didn’t always know the best way to do so.
It asks city staff to consider lessons learned during the derecho recovery effort and provide specific guidance to help direct community resources to where they are needed most in an emergency.
Tip for reviewing generators
Knoxdale-Merivale County Keith Egli also has a motion calling on city staff to prepare a report on rules regarding standby generators at residential high-rises and gas stations, reviewing regulatory changes needed to they are widely installed and maintained.
The city has “struggled” to understand the rules around generators, said Steve Willis, Ottawa’s general manager of planning, real estate and economic development.
There are different rules regarding generators depending on the age of a building, he said.
Watson also weighed in, pointing to the difficulties residents faced getting gas during the power outage and others who found themselves stranded in buildings.
“We saw too many examples of … older people in particular, who were in high-rise buildings, 12, 13, 14 stories, who just couldn’t go down to do their shopping, let alone go up the stairs,” said the mayor.
WATCH | Residents of skyscrapers share their frustrations after the storm
The city is working on a climate resilience plan, with the NCC and officials in Gatineau, Que., according to Willis.
He said it had become a “priority” and should be done at the start of the council’s next term.