Province to pick up the tab for Ottawa storm cleanup
Ottawa mayor Jim Watson says Premier Doug Ford has assured him the province will pay for cleaning up the national capital after Saturday’s powerful, deadly storm.
Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts” on Wednesday, Watson said he spoke to Ford by phone and the premier told him Ottawa would be covered.
“As you can imagine, mayors do a good job of asking other levels of government for help, because we obviously can’t absorb all of these costs,” Watson said. “He assured me they would take care of all of our costs, which was very comforting to hear that.”
The cleanup is likely to cost tens of millions of dollars, though no official dollar figure has been shared at this point.
City officials said Tuesday that it would be another two to three days to finish restoring power to the majority of customers. Hydro Ottawa said Wednesday that crews had connected more than 125,000 customers, with 55,000 left to restore as of 1 p.m. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, more than 180,000 customers in Ottawa lost power—about half of Hydro Ottawa’s customer base.
Parts of Ottawa are serviced by Hydro One, which also suffered significant damage. Watson said he spoke to Ford about the need for Hydro One crews and was assured that the city of Ottawa—urban, suburban, and rural—would be supported.
“I asked him for the city of Ottawa. They’re all part of the city of Ottawa, so things like the overtime costs for us to move brush, and our forestry department and so on, he was very definitive that the province will pay all the costs, so I’m appreciative of that commitment,” the mayor said.
Ford previously told Watson that restoring power was the “number one issue” following the storm
"We're giving it everything we have; we have all the resources out there working as hard as possible," Ford told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s “The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll” on Monday.
The derecho storm came with winds of up to 190 km/h in parts of the region, according to analysis by the Northern Tornadoes Project, and toppled trees, hydro poles, and even metal hydro towers, leaving tens of thousands without power, some of whom are approaching a fifth night in the dark.