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Weekend Newsstand: December 28, 2013

It's not Christmas and it's not New Year's but it is the weekend, which is almost as good. Some news for you: one potential measure for avoiding future ice storm power outages is too expensive for Toronto Hydro, warm weather may mean falling chunks of ice, two papers interviewed Police Commissioner Bill Blair, and a roundup of local news stories that deserved more coverage.

matt newsstand newspaperlies

Anthony Haines, CEO of Toronto Hydro, told the Globe and Mail this week that burying power lines to avoid future ice storm problems is not an option, as the procedure costs “seven or eight times” more to bury them. As the power outage still affecting nearly 30,000 Toronto residents moves into its seventh day, there is still no end in sight and Toronto Hydro spokespeople told residents to “prepare for the worst.” After a week in the middle of winter with no power, one has to wonder what Toronto Hydro considers “the worst”: no power ever again?

The weekend’s nice weather is going to make a lot of people happy, but it also brings with it hidden danger in the form of falling ice chunks. A lot of ice remains overhead, even in areas where power is back, and with warmer weather that ice may come crashing down. Several streets are closed Saturday morning, including parts of Yonge and Carlton. So if you’re heading out, watch out.

The National Post and Toronto Star each did a year-end interview with Police Commissioner Bill Blair, and reading both is a good way to get a better understanding of Blair and to see, in sharp relief, the differences in the two papers’ coverage. While the Post largely focused on Blair’s knee pain and how hard he works, the Star story began with a look into the police practice of “carding.” If you haven’t had to deal with the Toronto Police recently, carding is when they stop people on the street to question them and demand documentation.

Finally, the National Post has a roundup of 10 news stories in the city that deserved more coverage this year. Take a look and think about how much time we spent talking about Rob Ford’s extracurricular activities in lieu of these stories. Was it worth it?


  • Steveinto

    Interesting that 30yrs ago the city stopped burying hydro lines due to the cost. Wonder what the cost to complete the project then is compared to how much it has cost to not complete it now.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    The city digs up every street and chops up every sidewalk every year anyway, just bury the lines already!

    • dsmithhfx

      Buried lines are vulnerable to flooding. Just turn off climate change.

      • tomwest

        All of the City is vulnerable to ice storms/high winds. Only part of the City is vulnerable to flooding.

        One-third is already buried, so it can’t be impossible.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        My street has had branches come down in three storms this year alone, but flooding hasn’t been a risk once.

        • dsmithhfx

          OK then, that settles it.

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      The point is moot. In Rob Ford’s Toronto, where the private sector pays for public transit and we can cut taxes without effecting services, no one will want to pay the price of burying lines. Toronto has come out of this with only a few scratches and will muddle through the next crisis in the same stoic manner.

  • rich1299

    I was shocked to find out Toronto Hydro only has two forestry workers to keep trees clear of hydro lines so things like storms aren’t such a problem. In cities 1/10th or less the size of Toronto their local hydro usually has at least 6 if not more hydro forestry crews to continuously do this work. When I first moved to Toronto some 20 or so years ago I expected there would be far more hydro outages than there actually was, back then, due to hydro lines running right through tree canopies. But this past year has clearly showed the need for this sort of work.

    There still would’ve been hydro lines down but if they had kept up pruning the trees it wouldn’t have been any where near as bad as it is. I’m sure the cost to Toronto would’ve been far less to keep these trees pruned than the money lost due to so many being without hydro for so long. Burying hydro lines doesn’t make sense everywhere and comes with its own set of complications.

    Its very little to do if its kept up with, every few years or so in rotating areas it’d just take a bit of light pruning of the street trees below hydro lines to keep them well clear. Since Toronto Hydro has neglected this cheapest method of keeping the hydro flowing despite storms for so long there is a massive backlog of work to do in this city and it’d likely involve removing some fairly large branches instead of just a bit of light pruning.

    Toronto Hydro needs a bare minimum of a couple dozen more hydro forestry workers and it’d take many years or even decades for them to get caught up. I get this isn’t an issue along major streets and downtown where no large trees grow under hydro lines anyways but there’s a lot more to Toronto than such areas.

    • Z Black

      Thank you for stating exactly what I was thinking. However, regular accountability for any work by Toronto Hydro will NEVER happen, let alone the common sense of having the city trees pruned by hydro on a regular basis. One word why we will never see one iota more of work out of Toronto Hydro employees outside of emergency situations: UNION. About time they got to work…and finally they have but only because they’ve had no choice this past week.
      My street still had 7 houses without power today (day 8) and finally two hydro workers showed up. They were concerned with two of those houses only. When I pointed out the other 5 w/out power, they looked at me blankly and stated, “sorry, we only have these two on our list”!! TYPICAL UNION TROLLS, unwilling to even look at the other houses even knowing they were on day8 without power! There you have it folks.

  • OgtheDim

    That was more a list of news other then Rob then a list of stories not covered.

    All those stories were very much mentioned during the year, with multiple stories on each (except the polar bears) in most papers.

    Now, if somebody at the City Hall media would come up with a list of 10 stories not discussed at all…….

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      Even the pandas got a decent amount of attention. I think Ford and harper were there to greet them when they arrived. There were lead up stories to them coming but these were mostly drowned out in the crack scandal and subway arguments.