About 16,000 Toronto Hydro customers are still without power one week after an ice storm hit southern Ontario, but Toronto could be fully restored by Tuesday, Mayor Rob Ford told reporters Saturday.
“We see light at the end of the tunnel,” Ford said at city hall.
Hydro crews have been working “around the clock” to restore power to the remaining eight per cent of affected customers. Power has been restored to approximately 276,130 customers.
“This is first time in seven days I’ve been able to stand here and say, ‘I can see the end line now,’” said Anthony Haines, CEO of Toronto Hydro, echoing Ford’s statements. “It’s right there. I can see it coming. I just can’t tell you the hour that we’re going to cross the finish line.”
As crews work to restore power, there are now concerns rapidly melting ice could cause injuries and create more outages.
Temperatures are forecast to rise above the freezing mark over the next couple of days, and the winds are also expected to pick up.
Utility officials are warning that could lead to new outages as ice falls from trees and other structures onto power lines.
Toronto EMS reported a 45-year-old woman received a “very serious head injury” after being struck by falling ice in the Lawrence Avenue East and Bellamy Road area.
In Caledon, a woman was rushed to hospital with serious head injuries after a neighbour found her near a fallen tree.
Mayor Ford reported a Hamilton hydro worker was hit but not badly injured while working. A Toronto Hydro worker was also struck on the arm by a falling branch.
“They’re all okay, but it just goes to show the nature of the work and the risk that’s being taken to get these lights back on,” said Haines of the injured workers.
Southwest winds have propelled milder air into southern Ontario overnight and temperatures are just above the freezing mark, Environment Canada said Saturday. It’s expected to stay mild until Sunday night, when cold air returns.
Ice will melt off trees, buildings and other structures. In downtown Toronto, Yonge Street was shut down between College and Gerrard streets as ice fell from tall buildings. Gerrard is also closed between Yonge and Bay Street.
“The good news is that the milder temperatures will aid hydro workers’ restoration efforts this weekend, as well as homeowners who remain without power,” Environment Canada said.
Very cold conditions are slated to set in again on Monday.
In addition to falling ice, the city is warning people to be wary of dangling branches.
“Please look up. Pay attention to where you are,” said Richard Ubbens of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation.
Ubbens added that 13 crews were on the way from London and Ottawa to aid in branch and debris removal. For now the priority remains clearing hydro lines, but in the next few days it will shift to general debris removal.
“I’m guessing we’ll be talking about branches coming down for months to come,” said Haines.
The Toronto District School Board announced on Sunday that all of its child care facilities, with the exception of Broadlands, Fairmount, and Hillmount, will reopen on Monday.
The TDSB had been forced to close 180 of its facilities due to damage from the ice storm, with closures also extending to permit holders. Daycares at three Catholic schools are also closed.
York Regional Police are warning residents about the dangers of lakes and other waterways, and that no ice is every completely safe. Warn children to stay away from lake shores, river banks and ponds as ice and increasing water flows could be dangerous.
Click here for our ice storm live blog, with real-time updates from CityNews meteorologists.
Click here for a list of certified electrical workers that can help reconnect private hydro lines, like stand pipes.
Elsewhere in Canada, just over 6,800 customers in Quebec and about 12,000 in New Brunswick are without power after the storm.
Hydro officials are now saying that some may not be reconnected until the new year.
The city is also reminding residents that curbside garbage collection on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday will move forward by one weekday.
However, there may be some delays as downed trees and hydro wires mean collection vehicles may not be able to reach some areas.
City officials say residents should leave their garbage out until it is collected.
With files from The Canadian Press