The cleanup from last week’s snowstorm could last until spring — or beyond — and the cost will be in the tens of millions, Winnipeg's mayor said Tuesday.
"We are all going to have to be extremely patient as the recovery amplifies and the ongoing efforts are underway," Mayor Brian Bowman told reporters.
"They’re going to take many, many months, in terms of the tree cleanup of the tree canopy on public lands."
Earlier, Bowman and members of his executive policy committee approved a motion that calls on the provincial government to provide financial assistance to offset the city’s costs.
The formal request, which will need to be approved by council next week, is necessary to confirm that the provincial and federal governments will provide funding once a dollar amount is known, Bowman said.
"We know that the costs are going to be significant. What we’re looking for is support from the provincial and federal governments that they’re going to be there to provide financial assistance to help with the recovery of this storm," he said.
Jason Shaw, manager of the city’s emergency operations centre, appeared with Bowman at a morning news conference following the EPC meeting, and said about 245 households scattered across several neighbourhoods — including River Heights, North Kildonan, East Kildonan and St. Vital — are still without power.
"We are actively assessing need and making sure that we’re looking to take care of those that have been without power for four days now," Shaw said, adding the number of households without power is declining every hour.
More than 30,000 trees on public land have been damaged, with estimates of thousands more on private land, Shaw said.
The pace of the cleanup depends on the weather; this week’s warmer temperatures will help with snow melt, but winter weather, when it arrives to stay, will interfere with tree-removal plans, Shaw said.
Public-works crews from Regina, Saskatoon and Calgary are expected to arrive in the city Tuesday to help with the massive task. Ottawa and Toronto have also offered to provide staff if further assistance is needed, Bowman said.
There are still some safety threats from downed power lines, but the city is shifting to a full-out recovery operation, Shaw said.
"Our public works department and our water and waste department are working collaboratively," he said.
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.
Updated on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 1:13 PM CDT: fixies typo in cutline