Province Announces Pilot Program To Improve Public Infrastructure Following Extreme Weather Damage

Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith, Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark at the Bracebridge Wharf for the announcement on June 27. Photo by Matt Sitler, Country 102

The Ontario Government is funding a new pilot program that provides financial assistance to help communities that experience extreme weather damage become more resilient, according to an announcement from Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark at the Bracebridge Wharf on June 27.

The Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance (MDRA) program provides funding to eligible communities that face exceptional emergency response and repair costs as a result of flooding or other natural disasters. As part of a $1 million pilot project, the province will provide municipalities that qualify for MDRA funding with up to 15 per cent above the estimated cost of rebuilding damaged public infrastructure so that communities can make their infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather. Improvements could include raising roads for better overland flow of water, improving the columns or footings of bridges, or increasing the size of ditches and catch basins to increase their capacity for holding water. Communities affected by spring flooding that occurred after March 1 this year are eligible for enhanced funding under the pilot.

“This spring we saw the devastating effect of flooding in many Ontario communities,” Clark said. “We want to help municipalities build back better – to flood damaged roads, bridges and other infrastructure to a higher standard, so it can better withstand extreme weather and we know that some municipalities have limited financial resources to improve local infrastructure. By not having to rebuild the same washed-out road or bridge again and again, communities will save money over the long-term.”

Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller said that given the two “hundred-year” floods the riding has experienced in the past few years, he’s glad that the government will help municipalities redesign and rebuild municipal infrastructure so that it’s better able to withstand future flooding. 

Severe weather caused $1.9 billion in insured damage across Canada in 2018, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada. Investments that help reduce the risk of repeated damage due to extreme weather aim to save municipalities, small businesses and homeowners time and money, and keep residents more safe when disasters strike. 

“The Town of Bracebridge applauds the provincial government for this initiative to help municipalities recover from extreme weather events such as the flooding that hit Bracebridge and the Muskoka region this spring,” said Bracebridge Mayor Graydon Smith. “The opportunity to improve the quality of municipal infrastructure impacted by a flood or other significant weather event saves time and money and allows municipalities to better manage their finances in the long term.”

To learn more about the MDRA program, click here.


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