Full extent of Toronto ice storm damage still unknown
City official estimates that tree-related cleanup will cost at least $70 million
The cleanup continues weeks after a major ice storm struck Toronto, as city officials continue to assess the extensive damage to the city’s tree canopy.
The storm hit just days before Christmas, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of hydro customers in the city as ice-laden branches and trees came crashing down to the ground.
Richard Ubbens, the acting general manager of the city’s parks, forestry and recreation department, says the storm was the most damaging of its kind that he has seen.
"I’ve seen lots of ice storms… but nothing where so many trees had so many broken branches," Ubbens told CBC News in an interview.
Some 200 crews are still out working clearing tree-related debris from city parks. They are working 10 hours a day, six days a week.
Their work in city parks, which they hope to finish by March, followed the clearing of all the trees that fell on city streets during the storm, as well as all the branches that landed on hydro lines.
Crews will need to finish all their work before the city can fully assess the state of the tree canopy.
"That takes a lot of time and we use aerial and satellite imagery to assess tree canopy," said Ubbens, noting that it is too early to tell precisely how much damage was done. "It’s too early to tell now."
The process could last until September.
Ubbens estimates that the full cleanup will cost at least $70 million, not including the pruning work that will be needed.
The city has reached out to other levels of government for help, but Coun. Sarah Doucette suggests that there are others who can pitch in to help the city plant new trees.
"Let corporations come and help us as well. Maybe they could plant a grove of trees and we could name it for them," Doucette said Monday.
The Toronto Parks and Trees Foundation has started collecting donations to be used to help repair the city’s tree canopy.
Click on the video above to see a full report from the CBC’s Steven D’Souza.