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Ice Storm

City Council had a special meeting on January 29, 2014 to request funding from the province for dealing with the Ice Storm of December 2013. For more information on that storm, please visit the update page.
City Council requested a number of reports from City staff and agencies including:
City Council request the City Manager to report to Executive Committee no later than the second quarter of 2014 on the City’s review of the emergency response to the ice storm, including recommended improvements to the management of future emergencies including the actions to enhance the resiliency of the interdependent infrastructure and services to extreme weather,

such report to include the following:

a. a third party review of how the City, including Toronto Hydro, can learn from the 2013 Ice Storm;

b. a shareholder’s resolution on behalf of Council as Toronto Hydro’s sole shareholder to:

i. integrate the Toronto Hydro Call Centre with the City’s 311 system, which has much higher capacity, training, reporting ability, and online service options; and

ii. direct Toronto Hydro to work with the City’s Transportation and Capital Planning staff, develop and implement a plan to bury Toronto Hydro power lines over the next 20-30 years, beginning with arterials roads and streets where major road reconstruction is planned;

c. communications protocols, both internally to Elected Officials, with City divisions, agencies and corporations, and with the public at-large, including use of technologies such as short wave radio, telephone broadcast messages, and email and social media capacities of local elected officials;

d. a review of the effectiveness of the telephone and telecommunications system within the City of Toronto and on ways and means to ensure customers do not lose essential phone services during a prolonged power outage;

e. how the City of Toronto and Toronto Hydro communicates with residents during emergencies, and requesting Toronto Hydro Corporation to:

i. include, within their emergency communication response, mechanisms to reach residents who are without power; and

ii. include manual methods for communication which may include an onsite vehicle with speakers to drive through communities to update residents and request the Toronto Hydro Corporation report back to City Council on all manual methods to be included into their communications response in emergency situations;

f. exploring the establishment of a “Emergency Social Media Coordinator” position within Strategic Communications Office whose responsibilities would include coordinating with all relevant agencies and divisions during an emergency situation to ensure there is a one-stop location for residents to access pertinent information in real time for the duration of an emergency;

g. all manual communication methods that can be considered for use in emergency situations, including a public notice to be distributed by Canada Post to inform residents about what is happening and what to expect in case of natural disasters or serious emergencies;

h. how the media can be given access to the Emergency Operations Centre for the duration of the emergency;

i. a communications strategy to ensure that those without access to a cellular phone, smart phone or the internet can be reached with essential information in emergency situations, such as the ice storm;

j. the feasibility for 311 to be the sole “brand” for information and phone inquiries in Toronto, recognizing the need for communication and the importance of getting our messages to the public to be clear and concise;

k. the role of Councillors and their offices during an Emergency Response and the identification of policy changes to ensure that Councillor efforts and their information are co-ordinated and consolidated with the central response;

l. best practices in other major cities across the world which have developed effective ways to deal with severe weather events, including heat waves, ice storms, floods and high winds;

m. proposals to ensure that residents have the information to better protect themselves from unscrupulous contractors and sales persons, and that residents have access to good information to protect their families and property;

n. proposals to enhance the residents’ resiliency in coping with future emergencies, including improved personal emergency preparedness and training;

o. a review of strategies to mobilize and coordinate community resources and expertise, including volunteers;

p. the feasibility of incorporating a role for volunteers and community organizations (such as places of worship, cadets, scouts, Ratepayer groups etc.) as part of an on-the-ground response and presence during an emergency;

q. ways the City can engage volunteers and in-kind resources to assist in times of emergencies;

r. in consultation with the Deputy City Manager, Cluster A, the Toronto Police Service and other appropriate agencies, options for creating a confidential, voluntary and secure Vulnerable Persons Registry to be accessed in emergency situations with information on the following:

i. which groups will be included in the Vulnerable Persons Registry;

ii. how personal information will be secured to prevent unauthorized release; and

iii. a communications plan to promote the registry emphasizing its voluntary and confidential nature;

s. the findings of an investigation into the feasibility and legality of allowing residents who apply for the Low-Income Seniors and Low-Income Persons with a Disability Tax Relief Programs to voluntarily share their information with the Vulnerable Persons Registry;

t. in consultation with the Deputy City Manager, Cluster A, the Director, Office of Emergency Management, and partner agencies (such as the Canadian Red Cross), information on how residents may volunteer with an accredited relief or volunteer agency before an emergency occurs and become a trained volunteer that can assist during an emergency and having this information posted on the City website;

u. the feasibility of linking community-based groups such as business improvement areas, Neighbourhood Watch, Ratepayer groups and associations in community-based relief, door knocking and communication strategies during civil emergencies;

v. the feasibility of mandatory incorporation of education and awareness strategies for residential and business emergency preparedness;

w. a review of the appropriateness of Reception Centres and Warming Centres and the feasibility of utilizing the Toronto District School Boards sites which are located within communities, such review to include initiating discussions with the Province of Ontario, the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board to determine how local community schools can be utilized as sites in emergency situations, as these public buildings are easily accessible to residents and determining what services could be available at the local school sites during emergency situations;

x. working with the Toronto Transit Commission to explore the use of public transit buses to drive through communities in need during emergency situations to offer transportation to those who require access to a warming centre or a community information centre;

y. an analysis of the existing City and Provincial legislation, regulations or policies related to mandatory or discretionary requirements to maintain emergency back-up power to enable life-systems such as emergency lighting, alarms, water, and elevators in high rise and other buildings;

z. a list of actions that can be taken to enhance the resiliency of our infrastructure and services to extreme weather events and the estimated costs for implementing these actions so that they can be considered for incorporation into the 2015 budget process;

aa. the feasibility of establishing an emergency reserve fund equivalent to $1.00 per month for the average assessed residential unit and the resulting equivalent amount for non-residential assessment;

bb. the feasbility of any 2013 positive operating variance being dedicated to the disaster relief fund;

cc. in consultation with the Director, Environment and Energy Office and Toronto Hydro, an evaluation on the viability of embedded energy solutions, including district energy, co-generation and renewable power, to improve reliability and energy security and how to apply it as part of Toronto’s emergency response planning;

dd. the potential options the City may have which could result in the increased undergrounding of overhead hydro and telecommunications plant, and that City staff consult with Toronto Hydro, telecommunications companies, the Ontario Energy Board and the Provincial Government as appropriate;

ee. a policy that all future new developments be required to bury their hydro wires and the feasibility of using development charges as a source of financing;

ff. consultation with the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer and the Chief Corporate Officer on all measures to be undertaken to ensure that the requisite support and systems for the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) are tested and resilient, including the power, back-up power and systems of the consolidated data centre, and the establishment of more effective protocols and procedures to regularly test all emergency support equipment at the City’s Emergency Operations Centre to ensure that the Centre is fully operational during any emergency situation;

gg. compiling and maintaining a list of major intersections across the City where, in the event of a power outage, the Toronto Police Service and Toronto Parking staff can be promptly assigned to direct traffic during the emergency period;

hh. in consultation with the General Manager, Solid Waste Management Services, the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation, the Director, Environment and Energy Office, and the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture, an operational plan to salvage as much wood as possible from the debris generated by the storm for reuse, and options for making use of this wood, including artisanal use, mulching, firewood, re-purposing for public parks, and other possible options;

ii. in consultation with the Deputy City Manager and Chief Financial Officer, a protocol in the City’s Emergency Plan so that in the event of major urban canopy loss, considerations are made for the collection and reuse of tree debris as is possible;

jj. requesting the Chief Executive Officer, Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), to provide a summary of TCHC buildings without emergency power during the storm, such summary to include equipment, equipment failures, staff support etc.;

kk. an updated tree pruning and maintenance strategy to reduce the vulnerability of city trees to future ice storms, including estimated cost implications, financing options and best practices from other major cities;

ll. a strategy to repair the damage sustained by Toronto’s tree canopy, including a full assessment of that damage, estimated cost implications and financing options;

mm. a review of the City’s Tree Canopy Maintenance Program and possible updates based on lessons learned as a result of this past ice storm;

nn. the creation of a minimum standard for the maintenance of privately owned trees; and

oo. a review of the by-laws with respect to the removal of unhealthy or unsafe privately owned trees.

6. City Council authorize the City Manager, in the preparation of his report to the Executive Committee in the second quarter in 2014 requested in Part 5 above, to hire an independent third party consultant to participate in a comprehensive review of the December 2013 severe winter storm, the Emergency Operation Centre and the Emergency response system.

7. City Council request the City Manager to provide the terms of reference, scope and membership for the City led comprehensive review and for the Toronto Hydro Third Party Independent Panel to the February 4, 2014 meeting of the Executive Committee.

8. City Council request the City Manager, as a Member of the Toronto Hydro Third Party Independent Panel, to:

a. seek input from City Councillors; and

b. request the Toronto Hydro Board to ensure that CUPE Local One Hydro members on the ground during the ice storm are also asked to provide input;

and to include as part of the report to Executive Committee in Part 5 above, a summary of the input received from both City Councillors and CUPE Local One members.

9. City Council request Toronto Hydro to provide a copy of the findings of the third party independent panel’s review of Toronto Hydro’s planning and power restoration response to the City Manager for report to City Council through the Executive Committee.

10. City Council request the City Manager to make a presentation to Council on the City of Toronto Emergency Plan, Preparedness and Protocol.

11. City Council direct the City Manager, in consultation with the Deputy City Manager, Cluster A, to implement the Vulnerable Persons Protocol to ensure the safety of Toronto’s vulnerable residents and report on the implementation of the Protocol as part of the report to Executive Committee in Part 5 above.

12. City Council request the General Manager, Toronto Water to waive the water turn-on and/or turn-off fee for residents and businesses who requested this service from the start of the storm on Saturday, December 21, 2013 to January 3, 2014.

13. City Council direct the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation to provide permit credits, and on special request, permit refunds, in Parks, Forestry and Recreation facilities for the period December 22 to December 30, 2013 where:

a. facilities were closed during the power outage; and

b. permit holders encountered undue hardship as a result of the storm and were unable to fulfil their permit obligations.


Councillor Fragedakis believes this was a good start.  She was pleased the motions she moved passed  The insurance bill for the GTA from the July 8th rain storm alone is over $850 million. The cost to the City government and its agencies for the two storms has been pegged at $171 million. These serious costs must be kept in mind so as to avoid being penny wise and pound foolish. For example, Councillor Fragedakis was against the cuts to the City’s tree trimming budget.




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Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Phone: 416-392-4032
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