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CN Tower staff says 'packed snow' fell to ground

It was a close call for some people near the base of the CN Tower when they had to dodge what was described as large “sheets of ice” that fell from the structure and crashed to the ground Thursday morning. Fortunately, no one was hit.

Small chunks of ice, which appear to be frozen snow, also fell from the BMO building at King and York on Thursday afternoon. No injuries were reported.

Falling snow and ice comes as no surprise given that parts of the GTA were under a freezing rain warning for the second straight day Thursday morning.

Toronto police were called to the tower in the morning and its engineering staff apparently told them the falling snow or ice isn’t unusual. There are signs posted in the area warning of the potential of falling ice.

“Today the CN Tower experienced some packed snow falling to the ground from the antenna mast at the very top of the Tower. As a precaution the police were notified who investigated to ensure public safety and they are no longer on premises,” Jack Robinson, chief operating officer of the CN Tower, said in a statement.  

Officers cleared the scene by 1 p.m.

The construction site of the new Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, which is being built beside the tower, was shut down.

“At one point, large pieces of ice were falling on to the job site and on to the street,” a construction worker named Adrian, who’s working at the aquarium site, said.

“It was falling all around us … it could have been a foot at times or a few metres from bigger pieces at times,” Christian, another construction worker, said.

People in the immediate area called 911 when they spotted what appeared to be falling ice. It’s not known yet exactly which part of the tower the snow fell from.

“When the call came in it was being described as large sheets of ice falling,” Toronto Police Const. Wendy Drummond said.

CityNews cameraman Alfredo Colangelo filmed the chunks as they fell from the tower around 11:30 a.m.

This isn’t the first incident of packed snow falling from the tower. In March 2007 ice that had built up on the side of the structure and fell onto the Gardiner Expressway.

There are safety precautions in place to prevent such incidents, including having engineers regularly monitoring ice, heating cables to ensure ice on the tower is melted, and the use of propylene glycol — the same agent used to de-ice planes — on the tower’s vertical surfaces.