Earlier this week, MPP Norman Miller hosted a meeting between local mayors of the municipalities that experienced flooding this spring and the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing is responsible for Ontario’s disaster recovery programs – Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians (DRAO) which helps individuals, small businesses and not-for profit organizations after a natural disaster and the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance (MDRA) program which helps municipalities rebuild infrastructure after a natural disaster.
The meeting was attended by the Mayors of Huntsville, Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays, Burk’s Falls, Armour Township, Ryerson Township, Magnetawan and the Chair of the District of Muskoka.
The mayors thanked Minister Clark for being accessible to them and for his Ministry’s support during the flooding. Cathy Still, Mayor of Burk’s Falls, thanked him for paying attention to smaller municipalities.
Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith said he felt the disaster recovery program had improved since his experience after the 2013 flooding. Minister Clark responded that “we recognized the program needed to be changed and I am pleased to hear the changes have been for the better. We will continue to work to improve the program.”
Miller and the mayors raised concerns about rebuilding municipal infrastructure to the same standards as in the past given the increasing frequency and severity of flooding.
“Given that we’ve had two ‘hundred-year’ floods in a few years we need to support municipalities to redesign and rebuild our essential municipal infrastructure so that it will be able to withstand the flooding that is becoming the new normal,” said Miller.
In advance of the meeting the Minister, Miller and Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison toured some of the Huntsville businesses impacted by the flooding in late April.
“It is great to see that the businesses have been able to reopen in time for the busy summer season,” said Miller. “I want to make sure everyone in Ontario knows that despite this spring’s flooding Muskoka is Open for Business.”