HUNTSVILLE, ON – The rebuilding of Muskoka following floods is happening.

On Monday, Parry Sound-Muskoka MPP Norm Miller hosted a meeting in Huntsville with local mayors of towns affected by the spring flooding. Also present was Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Steve Clark.

Clark was discussing the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians (DRAO). It helps small businesses and not-for-profit groups after a natural disaster, while the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance program is designed to help communities rebuild infrastructure following an event like a flood.

Dan Barkwell, owner of Moose Delaney’s Sports Grill, listens as Dezarae Aldridge-Earl describes the flooding in her business, Dental Hygiene with Dezarae, to Norman Miller, Minister Steve Clark and Mayor Scott Aitchison.

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.

In a provincial news release about the meeting, Graydon Smith, Mayor of Bracebridge, said he felt the updated version of the disaster recovery program was an improvement from the last time the town was damaged by flooding in 2013.

“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,” said Clark.

One area of discussion was whether or not to rebuild to current standards or anticipate worse events and increase engineering and tolerances for those events.

“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.

Prior to the meeting starting, Miller, Huntsville Mayor Scott Aitchison and Minister Clark toured some local businesses affected by the flooding.

“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.”

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing held a meeting last night in Bracebridge and there will be a meeting tonight in Huntsville open to the public at the Town Hall starting at 7:00pm.