During the Ottawa city council meeting on Wednesday, June 22, several city councillors were calling on Hydro Ottawa to better inform residents about power outages especially following the May 21 storm.
The storm knocked down approximately 400 Hydro poles and nearly 15,000 trees in the Ottawa area and left thousands without power.
Councillors such as Theresa Kavanagh and Laura Dudas are among the several councillors calling for better communication about power restoration efforts in the case of another major power outage.
Coun. Kavanagh questioned Hydro Ottawa asking if crews knew how long power would be out, why did it take so long to get that message out?
Hydro Ottawa's board chair Jim Durrell explained that he spoke with the the utility's chief executive officer and president Bryce Conrad and decided that it wouldn't be fair to give residents false hope about exact time frames.
"That's the worst thing you can do for someone," he said. "If you're going to be out for a week, face it, that's what's happening, you're going to be out for a week."
Durrell said that Hydro Ottawa was consistent in their daily briefings and updates, while letting people know when the power could be restored despite many residents expressing their frustration about uncertain time frames, which at times seemed "unwarranted."
Conrad added that restoring the bulk system was the major priority before restoring the smaller areas.
"Once I had that up, we would be in a better position to provide realistic timelines for restorations," he said. "So that really was the commitment."
While Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley applauded Hydro crews for their efforts in restoring power, he suggested that communication crews work closely with media outlets, particularly radio stations to get information out to residents as quickly as possible.
"There was no point putting out a newsletter, nobody had internet or had power to read that newsletter," he said. "What they needed was something they could access without power."
Coun. Laura Dudas echoed similar concerns about lack of communications from Hydro Ottawa. Once the power was out, particularly in her ward, she said, she hit the ground running to provide residents with information as quickly as possible. But she argued, this should not fall on the responsibility of City staff.
She told The Sam Laprade Show on Thursday, June 23, that she commends Hydro Ottawa crews for fixing 410 poles, a process that could take up to a year to complete, in two weeks time.
"I can't say enough about the work Hydro crews and partner crews did, because as a city, we could have not done this alone," she added.
She appreciated the fact that Hydro Ottawa officials recognized that there were gaps in communicating to residents regarding power outages, especially with many people unable to check updates due to lack of Internet service caused by the storm.
Listen to the full interview with Coun. Dudas below: