Gleaner

Serving Toronto's most liveable communities with the Annex Gleaner and Liberty Gleaner

Park Property without power: 22-storey building suffers 30-hour outage

June 8th, 2010 · 1 Comment

Matthew James/Gleaner News

By Darko Milenkovic

Residents of a 22-storey building in the Annex found themselves with neither electricity nor water during a weekend-long power outage last month.

During a windy morning on May 8, a tree limb fell on top of a power fuse creating sparks and causing a partial power outage at 100 Spadina Rd, owned and managed by Park Property Management Inc.

The superintendent of the building, Eva Ostrihon, witnessed the event. “It was very windy that day,” Ostrihon said. “I saw it—I was showing an apartment—so I was right on the balcony in front of the tree. It just sparked, and then banged, and then the electricity went down.”

Elevators also lost power. A woman on the 16th floor was in one of the elevators at the time of the outage, and remained there for about an hour until elevator technicians arrived to help her out. “One of the assistant supers came running up the stairwells, knocking on the elevator doors,” said building resident Leslie MacNeil.

MacNeil, a tenant on the 22nd floor, had no power for essential home appliances including her refrigerator and her computer. Many others suffered a similar power loss.

“My neighbour across the hallway had her fridge working, but her stove wasn’t working, whereas I had my fridge not working and my stove was working.”

The residents used extension cords alongside the few working power outlets to keep their critical appliances operational.

Lights in apartments, hallways, and stairwells went out simultaneously, locking those without flashlights, or the ability to traverse up and down multiple floors, trapped within their homes. “We were held hostage by this,” MacNeil said adding that there are a lot of seniors in the building above the 14th floor.

One woman on the 17th floor was expecting her son and his family to visit her for Mother’s Day and take her out for lunch, but couldn’t get down the long flight of stairs due to her frail physique and broken hip.

While people below the 11th floor were lucky enough to still have running water, the upper floors didn’t even have flushing toilets. “The water comes without pumps to the 11th floor,”  Ostrihon explained.

The outage began around 11 a.m. Saturday morning, and initial calls were made to Toronto Hydro within the next two hours.

Tenants said they made over a hundred calls to Toronto Hydro over the weekend. Power was finally restored at around 5 p.m. on Sunday.

“People were in the hallways here, during the night, in their nightgowns wandering around,” MacNeil said. “Some were crying ‘Nobody’s paying attention, nobody’s coming.’ Time and time again we tried phoning Toronto Hydro.”

For every call, tenants were asked to identify their address and postal code before waiting for a representative. Tenants were told by representatives to go to sleep and that the issue would be resolved before morning. “At no time did they give us a time frame—they just said that they were on the way,” MacNeil said.

Offering possibilities about why the outage lasted as long as it did, Ostrihon said its partial nature may have placed the building in lower priority. “But this is still a high-rise building,” she said.

Toronto Hydro finally arrived to work on the building around 4:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The forestry crew was sent in first to ensure a safe work environment at the site. Within half an hour the power to the building was restored.

“When they were here and working on the lines I went out to speak to them.” MacNeil said. “I was very polite, I wasn’t blaming them. I said ‘I know you guys have worked very hard to get this done.’ I said, ‘Did you know how long we were out of power here?’ No, they did not. There was a breakdown in communication.”

Tanya Bruckmueller, public affairs consultant for Toronto Hydro, said that it was an unfortunate occurrence, and that the windstorms that weekend had caused outages in many areas of Toronto. “There were a number of factors,” she said, when asked why it took so long for Toronto Hydro to respond. “For instance, public safety calls are always dealt with first, and unfortunately incidents like this one will have longer outage times than others.”

She said Toronto Hydro attempted to deal with outages caused by the storms as quickly as possible, and successfully made sure that all outages were dealt with before the weekend was over.

Bruckmueller also made note that Toronto Hydro crews required permission from the property management in order to access the building, and failure to make swift contact with Park Property Management led to a further delay in solving the power outage.

MacNeil said she was not pleased with the way Toronto Hydro handled the situation. “It was negligent, very neglectful, and just terrible,” she said. “Should anyone have had an emergency, or a fire happened, or someone had a heart attack, or broke their leg going down the stairs, who would have been able to get here in a timely fashion?”

MacNeil said many tenants felt helpless and distraught, and she is looking for compensation and reassurance from Toronto Hydro that such an incident will not happen again.

Tags: News · General

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 MehdiK // Jun 9, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    DAMN TORONTO HYDRO! Always have issues with them. Great article, thanks for getting the word out.