toronto blackout

Morning Brew: blackout quickly remedied, Shriners parade, Front Street makeover at Union Station, restaurants and retailers take big hit during G20, TTC customer service report running late

A transformer fire at the Manby Transformer Station in Etobicoke knocked out power to over 240,000 customers in Toronto and had many fearing a lengthy outage (like the major one in 2003). Thankfully power was back up within a few hours for most residents, and the grid's relay system was able to isolate the outage which apparently had the potential to affect a million customers. Twitter, of course, was all #darkto, and humour was the predominant tone:

brandcowboy: I would have gone with the riot, then the blackout, then the earthquake. But that's me. #torontolypse #darkTO

gvalentino: I blame Cito. #darkTO #bluejays

jessehawken: #darkTO - I blame the Blackout Bloc

boywithredwings: will now vote for any Toronto mayor w platform "There will be electricity!" and "You probably won't be beaten in the street!" #darkTO #g20

Also see Torontoist's live blog of the events that transpired.

The Shriners are in town and they're having a parade. Avoid University Avenue from Bloor to Front pretty much all day because it'll be mostly closed from now until after 7pm. Members of the Masonic fraternity, on the other hand, will have a great time on University - being clowns and driving tiny cars alongside marching bands, all in the name of charity.

While Union Station is getting major renovations inside, Front Street may also get some significant alterations outside of the city's main commuter train hub. The preliminary design for the makeover of the street puts emphasis on pedestrians rather than vehicles, and features the removal of two existing road lanes, widening of the center walkway/median, and a "European-style" central square.

As would be expected, retailers and restaurant in and around the security perimeter saw significant dips in sales during the G20 summit weekend. Based on credit and debit card data, eateries inside the locked down zone saw 66% less sales, eateries near but outside the fence saw 32% less sales, and retail sales overall across the city of Toronto were down 9%. Evidently the souvenirs bought and nights out amongst visiting international delegates can't come close to making up for the many shoppers who left town for the weekend and the tourists who outright avoided Toronto that weekend.

Byron Sonne, the man who faces explosives and weapons charges related to the G20 summit (as well as mischief, attempted mischief, and intimidating a justice system participant) will have to spend two more weeks in jail before his bail hearing. The hearing has been delayed several times, and the court is now saying that July 20th is the day they'll release their decision on bail or remand without bail.

And just like a streetcar during rush hour in the core or a bus in the suburbs on a Monday morning, the blue-ribbon panel report on TTC customer service issues is running late. The report was supposed to by delivered in late-June, but apparently meeting the deadline has been impossible because the panel was "killed" by the G20 and the need to "dig deep" is more important than rushing things. The report is now slated for release in mid- to late-July.

Photo: "Civilian directs traffic 4" by jer1961, member of the blogTO Flickr pool.

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