CALGARY — Provincial courthouses in Calgary are going be closed due to a massive power outage affecting more than 100 buildings in the city’s downtown.
Officials say the courts will remain closed until Thursday and anyone with matters scheduled on those days should check the Alberta Courts website.
Approximately 2,100 businesses and 5,000 residents are affected by the outage, which began Saturday night after a fire in an underground vault.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Premier Jim Prentice told a news conference in Calgary on Sunday that his own office in the city was without power, and that Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi offered the use of City Hall.
“Calgarians have in recent years endured a number of events but I think on each occasion it’s shown everyone the character that we have in this city and this province. We’ve all pulled together to help with out neighbours and we’ve shown that incredible Calgary spirit through all of this,” Prentice said.
The city says it will likely be mid-Thursday before electricity is restored, and Nenshi has said it may be as late as Saturday for others.
He has said that businesses in the affected area should tell employees not to come to work Tuesday, and the city will assess whether people outside the affected area should also avoid coming to work downtown after the Thanksgiving break.
Prentice said he and Nenshi agreed they would delay discussion about provincial financial assistance until later, noting they agreed there were other more important things to focus on now.
“We had a brief discussion about that and agreed that we would talk further later in the week. At this point, really, the focus is making sure everybody is safe and that people are living in appropriate circumstances and that in particular, vulnerable citizens are being well-taken care of and have food and water and are able to be safe.”
Nenshi warned Sunday that it would be impossible for it to be business as usual in the affected area when the work week resumes on Tuesday.
He called the outage a “freak thing” and that nothing similar had happened in decades.
Gianna Manes, the president of Enmax, the city’s utility, said Calgary’s electrical distribution system consistently ranks among the top quarter of electric systems in Canada for reliability.
Manes said the underground network downtown is one of the strongest parts of its system and why it failed is still a mystery.
“We continue to invest and maintain this part of the system because we know that reliability is critical to everyone in Calgary,” Manes told a news conference on Sunday.