Leaders with the City of Kenora are continuing to lobby the province to provide more support to the flood-stricken area, specifically for municipal costs.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing announced earlier today that residents across northwestern Ontario are able to apply to the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program, which can provide up to $250,000 towards expenses incurred due to the emergency flooding situation.
But Chief Administrative Officer with the City of Kenora, Kyle Attanasio, says the city is still working to become eligible for the second stream of the program which applies to municipalities, and Kenora has to spend at least $750,000 first.
“The province has a very specific list of eligible expenses. We need to incur a certain amount in eligible expenses to be able to tap in to disaster relief funding. We have not received any funding as of yet,” said Attanasio, during this week’s Committee of the Whole meeting at City Hall.
The City of Kenora declared a State of Emergency on May 10, which is supposed to help the city access provincial assistance with an emergency situation. To date, the only assistance the municipality has seen from the province has been providing empty sandbags for residents at MNRF offices.
“My understanding is, a lifting of the road grade may not be eligible,” Attanasio adds. “They’re not considering that to be driven by the emergency. They’re considering that as something the city is doing to build up the roadway. We would need something for akin to a washout to be eligible. There are challenges with the eligibility criteria.”
Attanasio notes the Municipality of Fort Frances was able to receive funding from the province, but noted they had applied for the funding prior to writ dropping during the election season, and Kenora’s assistance may have been delayed due to the election tying up provincial ministries.
Director of Finance for the City of Kenora, Charlotte Edie, notes staff are tracking all of their expenses to compile a final report, which would include additional staff wages, additional road work and the evacuation centre at the Kenora Rec Centre, but the report is expected to take a few months.
Clerk and Director of Corporate Services with the City of Kenora, Heather Pihulak, adds the city has repeatedly lobbied the province for more financial support for residents, and more details from the city on support for residents can be expected shortly.
Flooding in the region has reached record levels due to heavy precipitation and late snowmelt. According to Environment Canada, Northwestern Ontario has seen 312 per cent more precipitation in April and May 2022 compared to last year.
The Lake of the Woods Control Board says Lake of the Woods is expected to rise by approximately 2 to 4” over the next 7 days, getting closer to the record level of 324.31 m which was set in July of 1950.
The City of Kenora is asking residents to help report flooding or rising water levels in the area. You’re asked to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to report water that is at concerning levels, or flooded roads. You may also call City Hall at 467-2000 between Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.