May 30th Toronto Islands Flood Mitigation Updates
As expected, Lake levels have continued to rise and have now reached the highest recorded level in Lake Ontario history. Staff are continuing to prepare, respond and monitor, including to expected high winds this afternoon, that will bring significant wave action that may cause breaches in multiple areas.
Yesterday, the rise in Lake levels caused water to breach areas within Algonquin Island. Staff responded immediately, and conducted extensive pumping of about 20-30cm of water on both public and private areas. Ferry service has been halted to Hanlan's Point for vehicles and pedestrians, and water levels have forced the area surrounding Gibraltar Point to be closed off. Toronto Hydro has confirmed that all infrastructure continues to operate safely.
Staff continue to work around the clock to do everything they can to protect all areas of the Islands. 30 pumps continued to operate. 24,000 sand bags have been deployed, along with 30 meter bags in more vulnerable areas, including residential communities. The Islands remain open to the public, and the Island School is open.
This is a difficult time for local residents, who are also working tirelessly to protect the Islands. We are all grateful for volunteer assistance from visitors and the public – all are welcome to assist.
We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure the Islands remain safe & open. We continue to work closely with senior city & Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) staff, & the Island community. However, as I have said before, as the climate crisis accelerates, annual sandbagging cannot be the solution.
The City of Toronto and the TRCA, are in the process of finalizing a report commissioned last year, on long-term mitigation and adaptation measures. TRCA is currently finalizing several reports for this study, including reviewing conditions that led to 2017 high water levels, and evaluation of structural options to adapt for the future. These reports, set to come forward in June, will help facilitate an understanding of the community and infrastructure vulnerabilities, and outline several flood mitigation and adaptation options. Information from this project has been extremely helpful in responding to the current flood situation.
I would like to thank our tremendous City staff, and the TRCA who have been working 24/7, as well as our resilient Island residents and businesses. While we work to develop mitigation strategies long-term, I am continuing to monitor the situation on the Islands daily, and will provide updates as conditions evolve.