Ice Storm (Updated)

(12/30/13 Update) It has been a difficult holiday for many of our residents, but after a week of almost non-stop work by Toronto Hydro and many out-of-town helpers, virtually all power is now back online.  If you are still experiencing problems, please contact Hydro directly at 416-542-8000.  While I understand the frustration with the length of time required for repairs to be completed, I am truly grateful to all the technicians who gave up their holidays to get everyone back up as quickly as possible under very difficult circumstances, and to the staff at Hydro head office where we were able to report some specific problems, even on Christmas Day.

Now the work of putting everything else back together again begins.  Work to clear all tree debris will begin on Friday, January 3 and it will continue for approximately eight weeks, weather permitting. Residents are asked to place their tree debris on the curb or the boulevard by Thursday, January 2. Please remember to provide at least one metre of clearance to ensure those with mobility issues can pass safely.  Large limb or stem (body) wood from private trees that have fallen on private property should not be taken to the curb. Property owners should contact a private contractor to remove this material.

Many residents have asked about recourse for dealing with limbs that have fallen from a neighbour’s tree onto their property.  Unfortunately the City cannot take a position on private tree disputes between neighbours.  Hopefully neighbours will be able to find appropriate resolutions in these situations.

If you have organic material (food waste) that cannot fit in your Green Bin, please set it out in a clear plastic bag. Food waste will be collected on your regularly scheduled collection day.

A special meeting of Council has been called for Friday, January 10 to request support from the Province through its Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program. The ODRAP is in place to assist municipalities with recovering costs associated with damage to public infrastructure and buildings.  There are also methods to request funding to assist in recovering costs for “necessities of life” to private citizens, such as food, shelter, and essential clothing.

I again thank all residents for their patience during this difficult time.  Wishing you all the best for a Happy New Year.

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(12/25/13 Update) As power comes back to many in the community, I know frustration mounts for those still without.  As of this morning, 72,000 residents in the City are still without power, many of them in Willowdale.  My office has been in touch with Toronto Hydro this morning and crews continue to work around the clock.  Many were spotted hard at work in Willowdale this morning.  All primary feeders have now been repaired and attention is now focused on individual streets and homes without power.  This work is far more labour intensive and progress will take time.  If you have yet to see a crew on your street, know they are at work in the area.  Please know that everything that can be done is happening as quickly as possible.

If you are still without power, Toronto Hydro is asking you to check the condition of your electrical service entry outside the house (commonly called the electrical stand pipe and mast). Customers, who can clearly see there is damage, should contact a licensed electrical contractor to make repairs in advance. When Toronto Hydro crews arrive to energize your service, it can be done without any further delay.

Electrical contractors must be licensed by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) otherwise they are working illegally and potentially putting customer safety at risk. Please visit the ESA website for a listing of ESA/ECRA licensed electrical contractors.  Toronto Hydro will also be posting a list of pre-approved contractors on its website at

Customers concerned that Toronto Hydro is reporting that their neighbourhood has been restored when their home is still without power, are advised to do the following:

  1. Check to see if your neighbours have power, if they don’t, it is likely that more work is to be done on your street.

  2. If your home is the only house without electricity, check your electrical panel inside the home to see if the breakers are in the “on” position.

  3. Check the electrical service entry outside your home to see if it is damaged or the service wire is “down”.  If the wire is down, please stay back and contact us at 416-542-8000 to report the downed wire.

City Heating centres continue to be open at Edithvale (131 Finch Ave W) and Mitchell Field (89 Church Ave).  If you, your neighbours or family are in need of some warmth, I urge you to seek shelter there.  Staff are also advising that volunteers are welcome if you have some time to lend a hand, or even offer a warm smile at one of these centres.

I am continuing to monitor this situation closely and continue to hope for a quick resolution for all residents.

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(12/24/13 Update) As of last night, Edithvale Community Centre at 131 Finch Avenue West has also been opened as a warming centre.  100 beds are available and people are coming in for showers and to get warm.  Meals are being served by Edithvale staff.  This afternoon as I visited, members of the Taiwanese United Church were singing Christmas Carols.  It was a great example of community coming together.

As of today, 90,000 homes across Toronto are still without power, many in Willowdale.  That is down from 300,000 at the peak of the storm, but there is still a lot of work to be done.  Toronto Hydro crews were out across the City and in Willowdale today (seen below working on Senlac) and will continue working 24/7 until all power is restored.

Hydro Crews

Original Post (12/23/13) Along with many of you I have been in the dark both at home, and in my office at the North York Civic Centre.  Because of the large number of trees in Willowdale, our community has been particularly devastated by this ice storm. I have been out and around in the ward and am incredibly disturbed by the amount of damage that has taken place and the number of homes that are without power. Please be assured that we are doing everything we can and that crews are working around the clock to restore power as quickly as possible.

At the time of this writing, 195,000 are still without power in Toronto.  Unfortunately, Toronto Hydro cautions that it could be past Christmas before all power has been fully restored.  Large trunk lines serving broad areas will be their first priority.  They will then start going home to home until all power is back online.

Officials from the City have been in touch with the Province and have been assured that we will be provided with all available resources regardless of whether or not a state of emergency is declared.  100 extra trucks will begin arriving in the morning from other parts of Canada and the United States.

Chances are if you are reading this message, you may have power already.  If so, please consider taking in friends and neighbours who may not.  If you do need a place for food, water, warmth or rest, Mitchell Field Community Centre has been set up as an emergency warming centre.  Pets are also welcome.  Mitchell Field is 89 Church Avenue, east of Yonge between Empress and Finch.

Please be extremely careful either walking or driving through the neighbourhood as there are a large number of lines down and trees blocking roads.  Especially at night, it is difficult to see them.

Toronto Hydro advises unplugging electronic devices to avoid possible surges once power is restored.  Also, please stay safe and avoid any downed power lines.  For updates, click here.

Toronto Water advises residents without heat to leave a tap open before the temperature drops below freezing, enough for a trickle of water so there is some movement of water in pipes that might be vulnerable to freezing.

Toronto Fire cautions keep a close eye on candles if you’re using them and use a sturdy holder.  Avoid operating propane, natural gas or charcoal BBQs indoors – if not properly vented they will create a carbon monoxide hazard.

For more information about when to keep and when to throw out refrigerated foods, click here.

For the latest storm updates from the City, click here.

I thank you for your patience, perseverance and willingness to watch out for one another, especially during this holiday season.  I will continue to provide updates online via Twitter (@JohnFilion23) and Facebook.