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3,000 customers remain without power, repairs cost Toronto Hydro $1M per day

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

Toronto Hydro says around 3,000 customers remain without power after last weekend’s devastating ice storm.

The staggering economic impact of the storm is also coming into light; Mayor Rob Ford said the cost to Toronto Hydro is approximately $1 million per day, with the final projected tally between $8-10 million.

“These are rough numbers,” Ford stressed.

The mayor is calling for a special city council meeting on Friday, Jan. 10 to ask the province for financial compensation through the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program.

The city could get funds to cover damage to public infrastructure and buildings as well as extra city spending needed to deal with the storm. The program can also help private citizens pay for food, shelter, and essential clothing.

“Hopefully we can get that through council. I don’t see that being a problem,” said Ford.

Anthony Haines, CEO of Toronto Hydro, said he wants to avoid passing costs directly on to customers, which is the sole source of funding for the utility.

“I can tell you we don’t have $10 million sitting around for this kind of thing,” said Haines. “But that’s the challenge for the management team to make that happen.”

Ford has “great confidence” Toronto Hydro will be able to find efficiencies.

For now the focus is still on getting the lights back on, said Haines.

“We’ll deal with the money next week.”

For the remaining customers without power, Ford said hundreds of hydro trucks from Toronto and across the country are working around the clock to restore it.

With only 108 people making use of warming centres Saturday night, the city closed four of them at noon Sunday.

Six centres remain open. For a full list click here.

Forty-one TCHC units remain without power and 40 traffic signals are still down.

Haines said 15,000 customers had their power restored over the last 24 hours.

He expects power should be fully restored by sometime on Monday.

City crews have mostly finished clearing debris from arterial roads, said Stephen Buckley of transportation services.

They are now focusing clean-up around schools ahead of classes resuming next week.

Child care facilities at Toronto District School Board sites will also re-open Monday.

“We’ve gone through a very very challenging eight days,” said Ford. “Hopefully, hopefully today will be the last day.”