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Toronto toys with calling in the army for storm cleanup

Posted by Derek Flack / January 3, 2014

Ice Storm Army TorontoOh, boy, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly is considering asking the Canadian Army for help in cleaning up the extensive damage caused by the December 2013 ice storm in Toronto. With a $75 million price tag and an estimate eight weeks of work to clear downed trees, power lines and other debris from the storm, there's likely a convincing argument to be made that our armed forces should be put to work, but one has serious doubts that it'll do the city any favours in the reputation department. For whatever reason, people still find it endlessly entertaining that Mayor Mel Lastman brought in the troops to help dig us out back in 1999.

According to the Globe & Mail, Kelly claims that it's merely a matter of so-called manpower. "It's just, if we can get a lot of guys here and we can get into neighbourhoods and just say, 'Hey, can we give you a hand and get that stuff out?' ... I'm not sure technically how the army and its reserves could fit into that, so it's something I'm exploring," the Deputy Mayor explained.

Logical or not, should the army be deployed once again, Toronto's likely to become known as the city 1) with a crack smoking mayor and 2) that calls in the army whenever a big snow or ice storm rolls through. Only one of those statements would be true, of course, but tread lightly Mr. Kelly, lest you want to make the rest of the country feel very smug.

Photo by Ferit Onurlu in the blogTO Flickr pool



Jacob / January 3, 2014 at 12:08 pm
No reason not to call in the army. They're being paid to exist, and they're physically fit, so they may as well do something.

Of course, the Fordites will suggest getting the homeless and unemployed single mothers to drag trees around.
Noah / January 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm
Wouldn't we rather have an army that helps out Canadians as opposed to only using them as a force to support American foreign policy?
bill replying to a comment from Jacob / January 3, 2014 at 12:27 pm
for free, since they are all freeloaders with more of everything then themselves.
Syd / January 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm
The problem with other cities is that they are a fraction of Toronto's density. To give a better perspective the GTA has around 6.5M of Canada's 35M population. Thats 20% of population in one area! 5 times the population of the entire province of Manitoba!

Certainly warrants the Army. Other cities couldn't comes to grips with that since they aren't remotely as large in density and population.

iSkyscraper / January 3, 2014 at 01:01 pm
What complicates this is that in Canada there is not a strong public distinction between the reserves and front line troops.

In the US it is common to deploy the National Guard for local civic assistance during floods, snow storms, hurricane cleanup, etc. This is no big deal, and like the declaration of a state of emergency, quite normal and expected.

In Canada, everything is just referred to as "the army", because the reserves are very small and their role not well understood. Would it be that big a deal to ask some reservists for help clearing the streets instead of doing their usual weekend drills in some training hall? Sounds feasible. To pull frontline troops out of their bases? No, that would be odd and absurd.

Maybe if the politicians were more clear in talking about reservists and not active full time personnel this would not be such a media event.
BL / January 3, 2014 at 01:24 pm

Some perspective from a brief on Canadian Armed Forces domestic assistance:

- Except for immediate response to save lives, prevent human suffering and/or mitigate property damages, the decision to employ CAF assets for non-defence tasks shall be based on the need for unique military skills and capabilities.

- CAF must not enter into competition with industry for services available in the private sector.

Is there no one at City Hall who advises these clown politicians before they open their mouths?
E. Toby Coke / January 3, 2014 at 01:47 pm
There are plenty of tree removal companies in the yellow pages.
PB / January 3, 2014 at 01:48 pm
Artillery shells and carpet bombing are fantastic methods for clearing out fallen trees
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from BL / January 3, 2014 at 01:49 pm
Good point. Free labour they are not, which is what Kelly was seeming to imply. Did that brief make a distinction between the Regular Force and the Primary Reserve or Supplemental Reserve?
Sam / January 3, 2014 at 02:04 pm
There are plenty of us citizens that's could use the work and pay as well. I'd gladly take the work for 8 weeks, I'm sure they could get citizens to do this work.
BL replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / January 3, 2014 at 02:35 pm
No, there is no real distinction. In an emergency there is an Immediate Response Unit at high readiness in Petawawa. They can have some elements deployed within 6 hours and most of their units within 48 hours. The reserves would take time to get ready for most tasks (72 hours plus) and are used to supplement the IRU for extended tasks. The thing to remember is it really is dependent upon the situation and the key is it is a last resort after other government response is exhausted or when life is a stake. Hardly the case at this point.
Skye / January 3, 2014 at 03:16 pm
You can bet that if a tree had landed on RoFo's house, or squashed his Escalade, he would have been bellowing at the provincial government for not sending in the army to help us.
Yankee liberty / January 3, 2014 at 04:25 pm
You Canadians really are a joke! What are you guys going to do when you actually get more than 35cm of snow? Call the us and English armed forces too? This deputy mayor is not ready for his role. I'm pretty sure if mayor ford came up with the idea to call the army this page would be flooded with 300+ Hate comments towards him.
Minni / January 3, 2014 at 05:54 pm
Yankee liberty is absolutely right. When Mel Lastman called the army in because of a snow storm, he became a laughing stock. Norm Kelly showed his true concern for the situation by flying down to Florida for XMas.
Dawn / January 3, 2014 at 06:05 pm
would that mean that the sidewalks around our children's school would be safe for them to return on Monday ? Because right now they are not .
Gucco the clown needs a J.O.B. / January 3, 2014 at 08:03 pm
You've been trolling all day-everyday. Get a job,friends,life partner,hobby. GET A LIFE!
Sam replying to a comment from Sam / January 3, 2014 at 11:01 pm
There are plenty of us citizens that's could use the work and pay as well. I'd gladly take the work for 8 weeks, I'm sure they could get citizens to do this work.

Sam replying to a comment from Sam / January 3, 2014 at 11:22 pm
Who else would like $30/hr for 40 hours of week for the next 8 weeks? I'LL do it!!!
Aaron / January 3, 2014 at 11:48 pm
Hey city hall. People WANT to work for the ice storm cleanup.

Alex replying to a comment from Jacob / January 4, 2014 at 12:42 pm
Same conclusion I came to. What exactly do they do if they are not on active duty? It's not like they are defending our borders...They are fit, well-organized and available. Put them to work!
Alex replying to a comment from Minni / January 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm
Mr. Kelly has a very ill sister. He was not there for funsies. He was back in about 24 hours.
Yankee Liberty / January 5, 2014 at 05:56 am
5-10 cm of snow expected by monday. Canadian troops on standby!
Yankee Liberty / January 5, 2014 at 05:58 am
FYI, calling in the troops for cleaning up after a "storm" is more embarrassing than your mayor smoking crack!
Yankee Liberty / January 6, 2014 at 07:16 pm
I suck like Stan.
Ford Says "Get High, Stay Off Roads" During Storm / January 6, 2014 at 11:28 pm
At least get high as if this was Colorado!
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