Mayor Rob Ford and the city’s top official are once again calling on businesses and residents to curb their power use as Toronto continues to struggle with outages and prepares for another possible severe storm.
City Manager Joe Pennachetti is asking thousands of businesses who are heavy electricity users to reduce consumption, putting his request in a letter to them Wednesday in order to emphasize the severity of the situation.
“It is key for residents and businesses to listen to us. The next week is critical,” he said, asking residents and businesses to do all they can to reduce power use. “We need the residents and the businesses to take heed.
Mr. Ford said the city is “doing the best we can” to restore power to the thousands of remaining homes that are still without electricity, but warned that another storm could jeopardize that work.
Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm watch for Toronto Wednesday.
“We still are hanging by a thread,” Mr. Ford said at a lunchtime event Wednesday. “We are far from out of the woods yet. So hopefully Mother Nature will take it easy on us tonight. We should be alright, running normally by Friday."
Mr. Ford also urged residents to curb their power use and said he is “absolutely” worried about the potential of another storm. “Who wouldn’t be after we just went through this?” he asked.
Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli reiterated Mr. Ford’s plea for residents to reduce their energy consumption Wednesday. “Conservation is the best way we can preserve system reliability,” he said in a statement, which encouraged people to turn off unnecessary lighting or turn down their air conditioners. “That’s why it’s so important that everyone does their part.”
Toronto Hydro said about 5,000 customers in Toronto were without power by mid-afternoon Wednesday and had halted the rotating blackouts that began Tuesday.
While power supply continues to be a problem, there was good news for commuters.
The TTC managed to restore full service on the Bloor-Danforth line, ending the need for shuttle buses and lengthy lines. Kipling station, which was flooded after the storm dumped up a month’s worth of rain in a few hours re-opened at about noon Wednesday.
Mr. Pennachetti said it is too soon to say how much damage from the storm will cost the city, noting that Toronto has reserve accounts to help cover such extreme weather events.
Staff are in place, he said, in the event that the city is hammered by another heavy storm.
“We are ready for anything right now,” he said.
With a report from David Andreatta