Dozens of city and contracted crews have started the process of cleaning up debris from last weekend’s ice storm, as hydro crews continue to work to restore power to thousands.
Toronto officials confirmed that they will take care of any tree that has not fallen on private property. Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said he chaired a meeting with the Toronto Emergency Management and Program Committee on Friday and staff estimates approximately 20 per cent of the city’s tree canopy has been lost.
'Every day we get sort of a list of triaged calls on where we need to be to help hydro the most in order to allow them to be as effective as they can.' - Barry Ubbens, director of Parks, Forestry & Recreation
“Despite our continued focus on power restoration, I have been working with the TEMPC team to put in place a comprehensive cleanup plan of broken tree limbs, branches and debris from our City of Toronto streets and sidewalks,” Kelly said in a press release.
“The ice storm has caused significant damage to the tree canopy across the City, and some of the worst damage is in Scarborough.”
The CBC’s Steven Bull spent the day with one crew as they cut, chopped and chipped away at the mess.
More forestry crews from Ottawa, London, as well as out-of-province contractors, are arriving this weekend with their chainsaws and chippers.
Barry Slater lives near Carlaw and Lake Shore Blvd. and said it was like a “thunderclap, with bone, skin and muscles” when a tree branch snapped on Sunday.
“I’ve always advocated some kind of device to slow traffic down to walking speed anyways and this does the job just fine,” Slater said, laughing.
'We just want a time frame'
Parks, Forestry & Recreation Director Richard Ubbens said the city is still assisting Toronto Hydro as its first priority.
“Every day we get sort of a list of triaged calls on where we need to be to help hydro the most in order to allow them to be as effective as they can,” he said.
The city estimates it could take another year to get all the branches and debris out of ravines and parks.
Lisa Carroll, who lives near Greenwood and Danforth avenues, has been looking all week at the tree threatening to smash through her bedroom window.
She said the city hasn’t heard anything yet on when help is coming despite leaving several messages.
“We’re both without hot water but we understand other people are in situations without heat and that’s the worst of it but we are frustrated – we just want a time frame,” Carroll said.
She still doesn't know who is going to take care of that broken tree branch before it topples onto her house completely.
“Don’t even ask me that question,” she said. “I don’t know... it’s a city tree and they’re gonna deal with it.”