June 11, 2014

Town hurries to meet storm clean-up deadline

As published in The Erin Advocate

Erin Council has authorized the hiring of additional temporary staff and contractors as the Roads Department scrambles to meet a new deadline for cleaning up tree debris from the Christmas ice storm.

The province has promised financial help for communities hard-hit by the storm, but municipalities have to spend the money first, and find out later how much will be covered.
Erin recently found out that all estimates must be in by June 16, with all work to be done by June 22, unless an extension can be justified.

The urban areas and some of the rural road allowances have been cleared, but up to five crews will now be tackling the remaining roads. The extra cost could be $15,000 for staff and $40,000 for contractors, which they believe will be eligible for provincial funding.

The Town is applying to the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program for costs of $163,664 spent as of January, plus an additional $200,000 for work through the spring to deal with broken trees on road allowances and in parks.

Progress has been slow in clearing rural areas, partly because the Roads Department has been short-staffed and busy with spring road maintenance. And while the Town is only responsible for debris on road allowances, crews have been picking up branches dragged to the ditches from private property.

“There’s been a lot more material placed on the roadside than we expected to see,” said Road Superintendent Larry Van Wyck.