Community group preparing for extreme weather events in Toronto

Three years after Toronto's brutal ice storm, Ward 13 residents and community groups met to discuss emergency preparedness.

Three years after Toronto's brutal ice storm, Ward 13 residents met to discuss emergency preparedness

Ward 13 city councillor, Sarah Doucette, said people in high-rise buildings were particularly at risk during the 2013 ice storm. (CBC News)

Extreme weather was on the agenda Saturday at a roundtable on community preparedness in Ward 13.

Organized by grassroots environmental groups Green 13 and Community Resilience to Extreme Weather — or CREW — the meeting at Annette Library offered residents and community groups a chance to talk about preparedness for extreme weather like the summer flooding and winter ice storm of 2013.

At the ice storm's peak, 300,000 Toronto Hydro customers were without power.

Extreme weather was on the agenda Saturday at a roundtable on community preparedness in Ward 13. (CBC News)

"Communities suffered, lots of people had power out for extended periods of time," said CREW co-founder Sheila Murray, who spoke at Saturday's roundtable.

Her fellow speaker, Ward 13 city councillor Sarah Doucette, said people in high-rise buildings were particularly at risk, since no power also meant no elevator access.

"A lot of seniors and vulnerable people were stuck in their apartments and could not get out," she said.

'Neighbours helping neighbours'

Saturday's roundtable was geared towards informing the public and starting a dialogue about emergency preparedness. 

Representatives of the City of Toronto's Urban Forestry and Office of Emergency Management were in attendance, as well as staff from Toronto Hydro, the Red Cross, and various community groups. 

Doucette said one of her aims is finding out who vulnerable people are and ensuring there are reliable residents to check on them when needed. That means working with CREW, faith groups, condominium boards, and other groups to compile lists of vulnerable residents, she said.

"Our core message is 'neighbours helping neighbours," Murray echoed.

Toronto one of 100 Resilient Cities

The meeting comes on the heels of Toronto being accepted into 100 Resilient Cities, an initiative funded by the New York-based Rockefeller Foundation that's dedicated to building "urban resilience" in cities around the world.

Previously speaking to the CBC, Mayor John Tory said communication between city officials during emergencies is a shortfall he wants to improve upon.

Tory also said while improvements have been made to the city's emergency plan in the aftermath of previous crises, he doesn't want to wait for the next one to make the city more resilient.