Dec 23, 2013

By Jane Brown

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There is some good news as we continue to deal with the aftermath of the big ice storm.  Mayor Rob Ford provided an update at 8am today from Toronto City Hall.  “Our hydro crews have been working around the clock. 75,000 homes have had their power restored and more are coming online every single hour,” Ford explained, “Toronto East General is fully restored, Sunnybrook is expected to be powered by this afternoon.  All patients are safe and accommodated.  I went through the hospital last night.  Everything’s fine.  Our water and sewer systems are operational with no impact on our service.  The TTC streetcar network is back online.  The Sheppard subway and SRT are expected to be back online today.”

Mayor Ford says there are still over 200,000 Toronto Hydro customers without power; 227-thousand to be exact.  And he says Wednesday morning, Christmas morning, remains the goal for full power restoration.  Ford also offered reassurance that it’s not necessary to call a state of emergency for Toronto.  “If things would’ve gotten worse overnight, we would’ve considered calling for a state of emergency.  But at this time, there’s no reason to do that.  We’re doing fine as is, and if the province wants to help out and offer their help, we’ll be more than happy to take it.”

Alongside Mayor Ford this morning is Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines.  “Our next priority are the big wires, making sure we get the big feeders back up, which will bring thousands and thousands of customers back up with them.  We’re doing that right now.  Literally, every few minutes there’s another feeder coming back up.  So we’re seeing subway stations, malls and other things being energized.  Then we’ll be into communities where a lot of the damage is being done at the residential street level – removing the trees and restoring those services to the individual homes.”

Hydro One has resumed their twitter feed yet this morning, saying 120,000 customers are still without power.  There are also tens of thousands of other customers across the GTA who are in the dark.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has just provided an update at Toronto City Hall.  He says a state of emergency is still not necessary.  This same comment yesterday prompted criticism from City Councillor Josh Matlow who says the aftermath of the storm warrants the call.  Premier Kathleen Wynne says the province will provide help to any municipalities that require it.  “There are municipalities that have already asked and we arranging through the Ministry of Natural Resources to have tree harvesters get the trees out of the way of roads and the power lines.  The City of Toronto has asked for some support from the OPP on the on and off ramps onto the 401.  They’ve also asked for some support with tree removal.  So those are the kinds of things across ministries that we can offer even if there hasn’t been a declaration of a state of emergency by a municipality.”

Ontario’s premier appears to be bypassing Rob Ford as she coordinates recovery efforts with municipalities affected by the storm.  Kathleen Wynne held a news conference to talk about the province’s role and she reeled off a list of mayors that either she or her office has contacted.  Ford was not on the list.  Wynne said she talked to deputy mayor Norm Kelly about how the province can assist.  Toronto City council voted last month to strip Ford of most of his powers, handing them to Kelly.  Ford was the dominant voice during a news conference yesterday which  the city held about the storm before Wynne’s media event.

If you’re commuting this morning, GO Transit is running a reduced schedule for both trains and buses.  For GO Train information, click here.  There are some service disruptions on the TTC subway.  Click here for more information on today’s problems on the TTC.  Information on the warming centres are on the city of Toronto website here.  Also, the Toronto District School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board, and the Peel School Board have announced there will be no daycare at their facilities today.

York University has announced it’s suspending operations until January 2nd because of the weather situation.  York says exams scheduled for today, December 23rd, would be rescheduled on January 11th.

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