Ottawa derecho: City to again request disaster funding

Mayor Jim Watson will be writing another letter to the provincial government to request Ottawa residents be allowed to access provincial disaster relief following the May 21 derecho storm.

The Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians (DRAO) program allows homeowners, tenants, small businesses, non-profits and farms submit claims for financial aid, but only if the province specifically designates an area as eligible.

Council approved a plan to write to province in June requesting Ottawa be designated an area affected by a disaster for the purposes of the DRAO program. To date, the city has not received a reply.

Council passed a motion Wednesday requesting Watson send a second letter to the province.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Watson said he’s talked to provincial ministers and will continue to advocate for support.

“They’re well aware of our request. We’re just frustrated that we have not received a response, one way or the other, whether our area is going to eligible like other parts of the province were,” he said.

“I’m not one to give up. We’ll continue to make our case to local MPPs and the premier’s office… We feel we have a very legitimate case seeking support under this program and we’ll continue to lobby the provincial minister.”

The powerful storm on May 21 did tens of millions of dollars in damage when it blasted across the capital with wind gusts of up to 190 km/h. The city estimates its clean-up bill will be more than $20 million and Hydro Ottawa has said getting the heavily-damaged electrical grid restored cost $30 million.

Some cleanup and recovery is expected to continue into 2023.

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