David Loblaw says his downtown Regina chocolate shop is a bit spooky due to a power outage that affected large swaths of the province.
But that didn’t stop the owner of Chocolates by Bernard Callebaut from bundling up in a parka and opening Tuesday despite what Saskatchewan’s Crown utility is calling a power outage crisis.
“We have all these chocolate Santas all around the room and all you see are these dark silhouettes so it looks like a bunch of weird dark ghosts that are kind of peering at you,” Loblaw said.
SaskPower said the majority of customers in Regina had their power restored Tuesday afternoon although the utility couldn’t say when others would see the lights back on. Other major centres including Weyburn and Moose Jaw have been affected while Melville, Humboldt and Rosthern are among the many communities without power.
Spokesman Jordan Jackle said “tens of thousands” of people were affected and the exact cause is unknown.
The issues started late last week with misty and foggy conditions clinging to power lines, Jackle said. All three of the province’s coal fleets were offline earlier Tuesday and crews were trying to assess the cause and do repairs, he said.
“We do know the frost had a significant impact on our infrastructure out there in the past number of days,” Jackle said. “Obviously that will factor into how we’re looking at this in terms of downed lines and whatnot.”
The company’s outage centre received 20,000 calls between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. – the same number of calls it received for the entire month of November. It warned forecasted high winds could make it harder to restore power.
Premier Scott Moe said the province is working with the affected communities.
“Saskatchewan people can have every confidence that SaskPower is doing everything possible and deploying every possible resource to have power restored to all the parts of the province as soon as possible,” he said in a statement.
Two-thirds of public schools in Regina closed early while classes at the University of Regina were cancelled for the day.
Regina police spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich said the outages haven’t caused too many headaches for officers. But she said people should remember to treat intersections as a four-way stop when traffic lights aren’t working.
At the downtown chocolate shop, Loblaw said business has been steady. He’s accepting cash and writing down people’s credit card numbers. There is no working debit machine.
Luckily, he said the cold doesn’t affect his product, but the –17 C wind chill forced him to send one staff member home and he planned to close early.
He said most other businesses around the area are closed and he’s able to hear people’s shoes crunch in the snow more than a block away.
“Normally a chocolate shop is pretty happy but now it’s kind of creepy,” Loblaw said.