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Councillor calls for Ford to declare state of emergency

A tree brought down in an ice storm lies across the roof of a car in Ajax on Dec. 22, 2013. 680NEWS/Anne Lavrih

With hundreds of thousands of people still in the dark, one Toronto city councilor called on Mayor Rob Ford to declare a state of emergency.

At a news conference on Monday afternoon, Ford reiterated that declaring a state of emergency was unnecessary beause conditions following Saturday’s ice storm — which covered the city in ice, brought down hydro lines and tree branches and at its peak left 300,000 customers without power — were improving. There were more than 225,000 customers without power at the start of Monday, and that figure was at about 190,000 at 4 p.m.

Coun. Josh Matlow said the declaration would help the city with additional resources from the province.

In a statement released Monday, Matlow said after witnessing the damage to his Ward 22 area  and hearing of the thousands without power the city needs help to “ensure our streets are safe and accessible, and as soon as possible.”

“My home, like many of yours, is still affected by the blackout,” he said. “I’ve been out to streets across Ward 22 and have seen the damage the storm caused.”

Premier Kathleen Wynne addressed the media on Sunday stating that she had been in touch with the mayors of municipalities all across southern Ontario, including deputy mayor Norm Kelly, and had offered up the province’s “full support and assistance.”

“If the job gets done for residents without a formal declaration, great. But the job is clearly far from being done,” Matlow said. “There are still hundreds of thousands of Torontonians who are without power.”

During a technical meeting earlier Monday, an Ontario government official said that they are providing the same level of response as they would if a state of emergency was declared.

A state of emergency is declared when municipalities have exhausted their resources to respond to the event.