Windsor residents deal with widespread flooding in the city, August 29, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Dora Amelia Belanger)

Municipal Affairs Minister Tours Flood Ravaged Homes

Ontario’s Municipal Affairs minister is getting a first-hand look at flood damage in Windsor, but it is not certain if the visit will result in more help from the provincial government.

The city and the other six municipalities in Essex County have the approval needed to apply for provincial disaster assistance relief funding, but Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens has said he will lobby for a new insurance program to cover homeowners who no longer qualify for traditional flood insurance.

Dilkens and the mayors of four municipalities met with Minister Bill Mauro behind closed doors at Windsor City Hall before the tour Tuesday morning.

It is not a commitment, but Mauro, getting into his vehicle to tour damage, told he had a broad discussion with the mayors about “where this thing may go in the future.”

After witnessing some of the damage Mauro spoke to reporters. He says the funds parameters will stay in place however the boundaries are flexible if homes outside the current

boundaries report flooding.

“The people who feel they may be effected who are not included know that they can contine to work with their municipal officials and we may ultimately make that change,” says Mauro.

He would not commit to investigating any kind of provincial insurance program but says the landscape to deal with climate change and natural disasters is changing.

‘The program when it was developed was not intended to be a replacement for insurance. It is called a disaster recovery assistance program for a good reason, it’s not intended to be a replacement for insurance,” says Mauro.

As reporters pointed out insurance is not longer available to many residents in Windsor he conceded that the landscape is changing and the province may consider changes to the program in the future.

On Monday at Queen’s Park, area MPPs pushed the government to approve permits so garbage trucks from Michigan can cross the border to help with the cleanup.

“We know that the clean-up process would be expedited if this Wynne government would stop giving the city the run-around,” Windsor West MPP Lisa Gretzky said in the Legislature.

Meanwhile, the city has canceled recycling pickup for the second week in a row while crews continue to haul away debris from the more than 6,000 homes that flooded. Bulk furniture collection is also on hold, and a secondary collection site has been set up at the former General Motors Transmission Plant.

“The premier tweeted that she’d help, but we’ve really seen nothing,” accused Essex MPP Taras Natyshak. “Municipal staff continue to be spread thin, desperately trying to keep up with the amount of debris that needs to be cleared.”

-with files from Maureen Revait