Applying for relief funding 0
Stepen Sellar explains to Minden Hills council how the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program works at an April 25 meeting. CHAD INGRAM/MINDEN TIMES
Minden Hills councillors were educated on how applying for relief funding and conducting fundraising related to the ongoing flood will work during their April 25 council meeting.
Stephen Sellar of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing was at the community centre to explain how the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program (ODRAP) works.
It is not a substitute for insurance, Sellar was careful to clarify.
Minden Hills township has 14 business days since it declared a state of emergency – April 20 – to pass a resolution to apply to the program.
The program has two portions – a public portion and private portion.
“In a nutshell, the public portion of ODRAP covers municipal costs,” Sellar said, adding these include overtime pay, supplies, emergency response, clean up and infrastructure repair, public health and safety measures etc.
“It is council who has to make the request to the province [for both public and private streams]. Emergency response in Canada is very much a bottom-up process.”
The township can be reimbursed for up to 100 per cent of its costs, but is not guaranteed such
Final payments will be based on actual, eligible costs, Sellar said.
In its application to the program, the township must include a preliminary estimate of total damages.
Sellar said since it was a preliminary estimate, there was room for this number to change.
Council must also physically define the disaster area. There is no flexibility there.
“Be careful how you define that,” Sellar said.
While the most devastating flooding effects have been in Minden proper, Irondale also saw damage as the result of the Irondale River flooding its banks last weekend.
Sellar said he would be in consultation with Minden Hills staff about the best method of ensuring that Irondale is included in the disaster area.
The private portion of ODRAP is for individual homeowners, small business owners, farmers and non-profits. It can cover up to 90 per cent of costs and is for essential property only.
This means structural damage to principal residences, as well as basic furniture and appliances.
It does not cover outbuildings of any sort or landscaping of any sort, including retaining walls.
It does not cover cottages, as they are not primary residences.
It may take a number of months for people to actually receive money.
Reeve Barb Reid wondered if an entire home was written off, if that would fall under program guidelines.
“I believe so,” Sellar said. “it does cover the structure.”
The private portion of the program is administered locally.
“Local fundraising is an essential part of this program,” Sellar said, explaining that council must set up a disaster relief committee (DRC).
The volunteer committee is appointed by council, but may not include councillors or claimants.
Once established, it becomes it own body.
The DRC must contain a minimum of five individuals and Sellar recommended they be “mover and shaker” types, people with proven fundraising and promotional experience.
The province will pay for the cost of a program manager to assist the DRC with day-to-day operations.
It is the DRC that will oversee official fundraising for flood relief and the province can match funds raised up to a ratio of two to one, although this is not guaranteed.
“Locally raised funds are expended first,” Sellar said.
The last time he went through the process, the community's DRC reached 60 per cent of its fundraising goal and did receive two-to-one funding from the province.
“Claimants got roughly 60 cents on the dollar at the end of the day,” Sellar said.
The DRC is responsible for monitoring private claims and once established, may exist for some time.
Minden Hills chief administrative officer Nancy Wright-Laking, who was clerk for the City of Peterborough when it underwent a massive flood in 2004, said its DRC existed for four years.
Sellar advised that Minden Hills establish a DRC as soon as possible.
Wright-Laking brought up the fact that a number of citizen fundraising groups have been popping up on Facebook.
It was Sellar's advice that those who wish to donate wait for the mechanism established by the township, or give donations directly to the Township of Minden Hills.
It's advantageous for the township to wait until towards the end of application period to apply, so that officials will have a better idea of damage.