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Power outage hits commerce in Toronto’s downtown core

·2 min read
Power outage in Toronto
Power outage in Toronto

Toronto’s downtown experienced a major power outage, affecting the financial district and major commercial hubs such as the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, home to some 200 retailers, according to the mall’s website.  

A Hydro One spokesperson told CBC that the company had “all hands on deck” to restore power as quickly as they could. The outage, which started at around 12:30 p.m. Toronto time, affected thousands of customers in the downtown core. Toronto Hydro said in a tweet just before 8 p.m. that power had been restored downtown. 

Hydro One tweeted at 2:14 p.m. that it was “investigating reports that a barge carrying a crane came into contact with high-voltage transmission lines in the Port Lands area. We continue to try and reroute power to bring @TorontoHydro customers back as safely and quickly as possible. #DarkTO.” 

Bloomberg News reported that trading activity on the Toronto Stock Exchange was not affected and that the subway was working normally.

The outage is sure to have an impact on downtown businesses, including that of the Eaton Centre, North America’s busiest shopping mall, according to Trip Advisor. 

Employees at a Lululemon Athletica Inc. store at the Eaton Centre, which is owned by the Toronto-based Cadillac Fairview Corp. Ltd., were unable to serve customers because their cash registers and all systems were off-line for roughly an hour. 

“When power goes out, every system we have shuts down,” said Wynee Gee, a full-time staff member. “Every single aspect of this job requires power, requires electricity. It’s very eye-opening.”

Gee said that she and her colleagues were immediately evacuated following the outage, per safety protocols. Power had begun to return by mid-afternoon, Gee said. Her coworkers went back into the store but customers were still not being let into the mall. 

While the employees’ salaries were not affected, an incident like this will have a significant impact on their sales targets for the day, said Gee. Their monthly bonus is dependent on staff hitting their daily sales goals or above. “There’s no way that’s getting hit today,” she said. 

“When we have technological issues, or in this case electricity issues… it really hurts us. It’s money that we can’t make,” Gee added. “It sucks.” She said it will be difficult to make up the day’s sales, given that midday to evening is the store’s busiest time. 

Lululemon didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

For business owners, the outage is reminiscent of the Rogers outage, which cost them tens of thousands of dollars.

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