Councillor says it may be March before ice storm cleanup complete
By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Ancaster homeowners may have to wait until the end of March before the city cleans up the remains of the Dec. 21 ice storm that swept through the area, leaving up to 30,000 households in the dark across Hamilton.
But Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson says for the most part residents have been understanding about the sizable job city officials have as they systematically remove the branches from homeowners’ properties.
“It is progressing,” said Ferguson. “It will take some time.”
He said city staff removed tree branches on the north side of Wilson Street on Jan. 18 and have been seen in other parts of the town. Still, branches and some trees were still on the ground along Rousseau, Golf Links Road, the south side of Wilson Street and along some other neighbourhood streets.
Mike McNamara, manager of forestry, said there are about 20 forestry crews working five days a week cleaning up the ice storm damage. The storm hit particularly hard in the Flamborough area, Ancaster, the west Mountain and parts of upper Stoney Creek.
McNamara said the emergency situations were quickly resolved. Staff is now systematically going through each community removing the trees and cutting up branches. McNamara said if the city has no other ice or snow storms as devastating as the December event, then the cleanup will take up to the end of March.
“It’s going to be longer than two months,” said McNamara.
Ferguson said after the ice storm, trees blocked Rousseau and closed two lanes of traffic. Lovers’ Lane and parts of Ancaster Heights also had downed trees blocking roadways that were quickly solved, he said.
“(City staff) responded very quickly,” he said.
As of last week, forestry staff received 3,675 tree damage calls and had 1,750 tree damage work orders completed.
Meanwhile, Ferguson was pleasantly surprised that the large number of people who came out for his New Year’s levee Jan. 21 at the Old Town Hall had very few issues to talk about. Residents at the levee were reminded of the ongoing and completed local projects that have occurred in town with photos of the now completed award-winning Wilson Street renovation project and designs for the lawn bowling and tennis clubhouses, now under construction, and the plans for the Ancaster Senior Achievement Centre, which now has a March deadline.
This year, Ferguson is concentrating on acquiring Memorial School from the Hamilton-Wentworth District Public School Board and transforming it into a cultural centre. He also wants to build some senior housing on the property. And while construction on Wilson Street has taken a hiatus this year, Ferguson said drivers should be prepared for more road work on the street from Hamilton Drive to Highway 403 in 2015.
Ferguson is also likely going to have to prepare for community protests against a number of residential development projects that are expected to be discussed at council this year. Homeowners on Wilson Street are getting agitated about the number of residential developments that are being proposed in Ancaster, which, in turn, is contributing to the higher volumes of traffic along the roadway.
Ferguson is also shepherding the design of a westbound off-ramp to Highway 403, which residents say is very much needed. The first public meeting is scheduled for February.