January 3, 2014 7:30 pm
Updated: January 3, 2014 7:34 pm

Ice Storm: deputy mayor, deputy city manager wanted Rob Ford to declare state of emergency


Watch the video above: Deputy mayor, deputy city manager wanted Rob Ford to declare state of emergency. Jackson Proskow reports.

TORONTO – Both the deputy mayor and the deputy city manager wanted to ask Mayor Rob Ford to declare a state of emergency following an ice storm a few days before Christmas that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people in Toronto, according to an internal email obtained by Global News.

In an email written by deputy city manager John Livey, he writes he was getting ready to ask the mayor to declare the emergency “largely because it will assist the staff at the Province to make resources available to us, crews, generators, facilities for warming centres.”

And deputy mayor Norm Kelly too asked Ford to declare an emergency.

“[Declaring an emergency] was my advice to the mayor at the time,” Kelly told reporters at city hall Friday. “Staff originally made that recommendation as well.”

“I thought there was symbolic value to declaring an emergency because it really sends a message to everyone that we take this very, very seriously,” he added.

In-Depth: Mayor Rob Ford

VIDEO: Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong says Toronto city staff never recommended to declare state of emergency during any meetings he attended

But he was denied. Ford maintained throughout the week that a state of emergency was not needed.

“We are not declaring a state of an emergency,” Ford said on Dec. 23 as 195,000 Toronto Hydro customers were without power down from the peak of 300,000. “If things were to have got worse overnight, then we would have considered calling a state of an emergency but at this time there’s no reason to do that.”

The mayor refused to call a state of emergency because he was assured by heads of various municipal departments that all available resources were being made available, according to an email from the mayor’s press secretary Amin Massoudi.

“The City Manager and the President of Toronto Hydro, among others, advised Mayor Ford that everything possible was being done, and because every available resource was called for and made available by other municipalities and the Province, there was no need to cause unnecessary panic by declaring a State of Emergency,” Massoudi wrote in the email to Global News.

WATCH: Deputy Mayor says he wanted Rob Ford to declare state of emergency during ice storm

Kelly said city staff changed their mind about the state of emergency on Monday, the day after the mayor was asked. City staff tell Global News they wanted a state of emergency under the assumption that it would free up more resources. Since the province provided resources without the declaration, city staff backed away from further requests for a declaration.

“Well the way things rolled out, they backed away from that position,” Kelly said. “I assume it’s because they felt they had enough resources on the ground at that time.”

Throughout the storm cleanup, Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines said the utility was acting as though it was an emergency. Additional crews from Manitoba, neighbouring cities and the United States were also brought in to help restore power to the city’s customers.

Watch the video below: (Dec. 23) Rob Ford says it’s not necessary to declare a state of emergency. 

The city also used community centres and Toronto Police division headquarters as warming centres.

Kelly wouldn’t offer an opinion on why the mayor didn’t call a state of emergency but said he “would hope” it wasn’t because the mayor’s emergency powers would be transferred to Kelly if an emergency is called.

When council stripped the mayor of his non-statutory powers in November, they transferred all his emergency powers – with the exception of the ability to call a state of emergency – to the deputy mayor.

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