Downtown Toronto hit with major power outage, leaving thousands in the dark

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Thousands are without power in downtown Toronto amid a Hydro One outage, and the utility says it is “all hands on deck” to determine the cause.

Hydro One spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rosa tells CBC News the utility is investigating reports that the outage was caused by a barge carrying an erect crane that came into contact with a high voltage line in the Port Lands, a largely industrial area on Toronto’s waterfront. 

The utility says the outage started at around 12:30 p.m. and is affecting Toronto Hydro customers in the downtown core.

There is no estimated of time restoration yet.

“We have all hands on deck to understand the cause and to re-route the power as quickly as possible,” Rosa said.

Toronto Hydro says the outage is affecting approximately 10,000 customers, and that people and traffic lights in and around the following boundaries may be affected:

  • North of Carlton Street to south of Queens Quay East, and York Street east of Bayview Avenue.
  • North of The Esplanade south to Queens Quay East, and Church Street east to Lower Jarvis Street.
Kitchen staff wait outside a restaurant during an electricity power outage in Toronto. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

Toronto Fire Services says it’s had at least a dozen elevator rescue calls throughout downtown as a result of the outage so far. 

Shortly after 1 p.m., Immigration minister Sean Fraser tweeted he got stuck in an elevator during a trip to the city.

Many office buildings in Toronto’s financial district and Toronto Metropolitan University’s campus have lost power, and several traffic lights are out. 

Toronto Metropolitan University issued an alert around 1 p.m. advising a majority of people on campus to evacuate immediately, saying the outage may compromise some building safety systems, such as fire detection and sprinkler systems.

All classes, labs or exams at the TMU campus are expected to pause during the evacuation. The school has advised employees to find an alternate place to work or take a break nearby until the outage has been resolved.

Toronto police help direct traffic during a Hydro One power outage in downtown Toronto. (Simon Dingley/CBC)

The TTC says customers may experience major delays to all streetcar routes in the downtown core. 

Metrolinx says there’s currently no impact on PRESTO, GO Transit or UP Express services, and Union Station still has full power. It says it’s monitoring the situation and will keep customers updated if services are impacted. It also says it has back-up generators if needed.

Police say the cause is currently unknown and are reminding people to treat intersections as four-way stops if traffic lights are out.

The City of Toronto says it’s closed the St. Lawrence Market until power can be restored to protect the health and safety of those inside city buildings where power is not stable.

The city says City Hall, Old City Hall, Union Station, 277 Victoria (Toronto Public Health) and 75-81 Elizabeth Street are still open to the public.

This map from Toronto Hydro shows how many customers are affected by a power outage as of 2:20 p.m. Thursday. (Toronto Hydro)

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