We weren’t affected by the ice storm that swept over Toronto this past weekend. A couple of branches fell off the tree outside our building, and the sidewalks were frozen over, but unlike hundreds of thousands of people around the city we continued to have electricity throughout.
By hundreds of thousands, I mean around 300,000, or 12% of Toronto. As of today, that number is 50,000, about a 83% resumption but that’s still a sizable chunk left out in the cold and dark. That number fluctuates (and because it refers to “customers”, i.e. billing addresses, that number is probably a lot higher), as additional repairs cause some people to lose power again shortly after they’ve finally gotten it back.
In any event, a number of 50,000 customers according to the specific Power Disruption (Electricity) Emergency Plan of the City of Toronto, is considered a “significant” power disruption emergency (according to all identifying characteristics).
A couple of people have somewhat carelessly died as a result of having to wait out the ice storm, but even being cognizant of the dangers wouldn’t have made this an ideal Christmas for anyone without power.
The fact that warming centers are currently used by about a thousand people per day (according to Robbie), would indicate that the vast majority of the remaining 50,000, or whatever the real number is, are making due otherwise. Many are staying in their homes (often those without the means to go anywhere else), but some will have moved in with relatives or are in hotels / motels. This is nearly five days after the storm, described as “catastrophic” by Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines, declared “one of the worst storms in Toronto’s history” by Rob (what would classify as an emergency, I wonder … a worstest storm?), and we’ve had some snow fall since then.
Rob didn’t think it necessary to hand Norm Kelly emergency powers (or maybe it’s because he didn’t want to?), which would have allowed Kelly to ask for the province and feds for extra cash, which could have been used to hire private contractors to get the city back in order as quickly as possible. Instead, Ford has placated embattled citizens with the knowledge that some extra trucks had been asked to come in from out of the city.
Of course, despite the ongoing financial hostage-holding of the public by the Hydro monopoly under supporters’ public lines of old equipment not being able to withstand Toronto weather, among other things, for constantly increasing rates, and in addition to the outrageous sums being paid to unelected and apparently unaccountable Toronto Hydro execs, citizens are expected to shell out thousands for contractors to connect the final length of electrical lines to homes (assuming they can even find a contractor at this time) … and then await more government benevolence in the form of safety inspectors before even thinking about the welfare of themselves, their families, and their property (that kind of craziness is liable to get you in trouble with the law).
The fact that this is winter and it’s freezing outside makes this a vital matter — one of literal life and death. It’s why power companies can’t shut off your power in the winter — heat is considered vital and essential. Until everything is cleared, damage from the storm will continue to occur. Additionally, all those darkened neighbourhoods are good targets for vandals and burglars.
Tired, cold, frustrated people are getting pissed — at Ford — who maintains he can’t do more than he’s doing. But he says he understands the frustrations of everyone stuck in their homes; it’s not like he was able to take his family to a hotel or that, despite being hit equally hard, his part of town already has its power mostly restored while others are still waiting.
According to Robbie, this is not an emergency because a “State of emergency is basically when the whole city is paralyzed, business can’t open, people can’t get out of their houses”. Business not being able to operate, that’s an issue; people freezing in their homes, or having them vandalized / robbed / damaged, not so much (as long as they can leave).
In his path to cheapdom, Rob Ford seems to have abandoned his Scarborough constituency (subways! subways! subways!) most of all, but really all of Toronto; and it’s not like it’s his first time at bat either, and it’s not like people haven’t been warning him.