Canada - Y2k Report on 1/1/00 : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

January 1, 2000

Millennium fears fade

Y(ikes)2K quickly becomes Y(awn)2K

But millennium bug hits Toronto Ambulance monitoring system

By Bill Taylor

Toronto Star Staff Reporter

After leaving the world pretty much alone, the Y2K bug took a bite at Toronto.

Toronto Ambulance reported early today that its Criticall system - which monitors hospitals and redirects patients - had collapsed. A spokesperson said the problem appeared to be Y2K related.

The system has been heavily in use lately as hospital emergency rooms reached capacity and could not accept patients.

The spokesperson said the ambulance service had been operating at about 25 per cent above ``normal call volume for a New Year's Eve workload.''

Elsewhere, as midnight crept around the globe, lights stayed on, phones kept ringing and nothing fell out of the sky but the embers of the fireworks that marked the beginning of the new millennium.

The dreaded Y2K bug caused nothing but a sneeze or two around the world.

Even survivalist Bruce Beach breathed a sigh of relief as it became apparent that he and a handful of followers wouldn't need to descend into his labyrinth of 42 buried school buses in Horning's Mills, an hour northwest of Toronto.

``It was real in anticipation, it just didn't turn out to be real in execution, or it hasn't so far anyway,'' said Beach, 66, a retired teacher who has been constructing the intricate bunker system for 18 years.

But, cautioned Peter de Jager, the Brampton-based consultant who first sounded the Y2K alarm, ``If you're drawing conclusions already, you're doing it prematurely.''

De Jager, speaking to The Star from a jetliner over the Atlantic between Chicago and London - he'd vowed to defy the risk of planes going out of control at midnight - said he didn't expect power outages or telecommunications problems.

``Obviously, I'm pleased the airline industry is fine. But the test is going to come as we move through the first business week. Most businesses are not working through the middle of the night.''

He cited a Y2K glitch earlier in the week that took down thousands of British credit-card swipe machines and led China to a hurried recheck of its banking systems.

Last night Toronto Hydro officials crowded into a ``war room'' to monitor the flow of current. But the worst that happened was about 140 homes in West Hill were without power for 30 minutes when a falling tree branch caused a transformer fuse to blow.

And a handful of Scarborough residents were in the dark briefly after a squirrel touched wires.

``It's like the gods are with us tonight,`` said spokesperson Karen Zeppa.

About 3,400 customers were affected by cuts in Windsor, Guelph and North Bay, said Ontario Hydro spokesperson Terry Young, adding they were equipment- or accident-related.

Expecting nothing but ready for anything, Toronto's top officials heralded a smooth transition at the 12-storey office tower turned secret Y2K command post.

More than 20 brass from police, fire and emergency services as well as Hydro, TTC, and public works declared the city's step across the millennial threshold smooth and uneventful.

Queen's Park was confident it would be ``a midnight like any other,'' said Paul Scott, assistant deputy minister of the Year 2000 Initiative at the Management Board Secretariat.

Ottawa will also monitor the situation around the clock for the next week.

Meanwhile, prison officials in B.C. reset some computers to 1994 to avoid costly adjustments.

B.C. Corrections spokesperson Sheldon Green, said computers that control locks and cameras at five prisons were not Y2K compliant. The year 1994 has the same day-date sequence as 2000 for January. But it wasn't a leap year so the clocks will have to be reset again in February.

Japan reported glitches in computers linked to radiation monitoring devices at two nuclear plants, but they weren't serious enough to shut down the plants. Nor was it confirmed that the problems were Y2K-related.

De Jager said tests in the United States had revealed the potential for problems in safety monitoring.

The calendar clock co-ordinating a power plant in the U.S. Midwest jumped ahead 35 days but officials said electricity supply was not affected.

A South Korean court issued automated summonses to 170 people to appear for trial on Jan. 4, 1900; ticket machines on some buses in Australia briefly jammed; and a TV weather map in France showed the year as 19100.

But Russia's nuclear plants ran without a hitch, including Chernobyl, site of the world's worst nuclear accident.

America's Y2K czar John Koskinen joined de Jager in warning that it's ``far too early to declare victory . . . we have many miles to go before we sleep.''

The real world Y2K test will come today, ``a big retail day,'' added Don Elder of the U.S. Small Business Administration. ``The malls are open.''

But for the moment it's Apocalypse . . . not now.

``You can count the number of Y2K-related calls we've received around the world on one hand,'' said Don Jones, Microsoft's head Y2K troubleshooter.

The Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization and International Air Transport Association reported smooth flying as air traffic control clocks ushered in the new year at midnight Greenwich Mean Time - ``Zulu time,'' in aviation circles, the standard used to control planes.

In Paris, five hours before midnight, the millennium countdown clock on the Eiffel Tower went out after working for 1,000 days. Officials blamed it on the recent storms that have pounded the city. The clock switched back on almost an hour after midnight.

As New Zealand became the first industrialized nation to enter the 21st century, Basil Logan, head of the Y2K readiness commission, announced: ``The lights are still on. The situation is normal.''

With files from Louise Elliott, Karen Palmer, Ann Perry and Star wires

Source: The Toronto Star, Canada

-- Lee Maloney (, February 12, 2000

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