Residents displaced by the Mississauga house explosion last June will not have to pay the municipal portion of their property tax bill, after city councillors voted in favour of waiving the fees Wednesday.
About 700 homes were intitially evacuated after a house at 4201 Hickory Dr. was levelled by an explosion around 4:20 p.m. on June 28, leaving two dead, dozens of neighbouring residences damaged and nine people injured.
Two bodies were recovered from the rubble, 55-year-old Dianne Page on June 28 and 55-year-old Robert Nadler on June 30.
On Dec. 30, police announced they had determined the explosion was intentional and that it was a double suicide.
Officials said 29 homes were still uninhabitable, with four nearby houses completely demolished following the blast, but the homeowners were still liable for their property tax bills.
Mississauga councillor Chris Fonseca (Ward 3) moved a motion in council Wednesday calling for a grant to provide clemency on the bills, at least for the municipal portion, which was subsequently approved.
“I felt it was incumbent upon myself as the ward councillor to ensure that I continue to advocate for them in every way possible to address the hardships that they have been facing throughout this tragic horrific incident,” Fonesca said Wednesday.
“Through no fault of their own they have been displaced so … from the time of displacement to the time that they are back occupying their homes we will provide a grant to them.”
Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said she was “delighted” council approved the motion to wave the portion of the taxes, which showed they are “caring and compassionate.”
“This has been an unprecedented move today by council but it was an extraordinary and unprecedented event,” she said.
“We thought it was incumbent about our council members to stand up and take a stand for those residents so I’m very pleased today.”
Crombie added that a framework would need to be put in place so there would be clear understanding of what steps would need to be taken for “other unprecedented events in the future.”
“I do not want to open ourselves up for future issues that may occur such as fires, floods, etc., without a proper procedure in place,” she said.
“As such, I think it’s important that we take care to ensure that there is a process in place to deal with similar situations in the future. We need to make sure that we are protecting our residents’ tax dollars while adequately supporting residents in extraordinary situations such as this one.”