Proactive Flood Mitigation Measures Underway Along the Waterfront and Toronto Islands

The growing climate crisis has been acutely felt on the Toronto Islands and along our waterfront. We have seen record-breaking flooding events over the last three years, with more record high water levels anticipated again this year. In the era of a growing climate emergency, an annual sandbagging effort cannot be a long-term solution.

This is why we have been working year-round, in partnership with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA), to ensure that proactive flood mitigation measures are in place, and that significant investments are made to ensure our waterfront and our Toronto Islands are protected. 

Construction for flood mitigation work along Toronto’s waterfront will begin today, and will build on the ongoing work to proactively address floods by repairing, remediating and enhancing the resilience of Toronto's waterfront shoreline structures and tree canopy with long-term measures. The City and the federal government have invested $29.592 million towards this critical work through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, with the City contributing more than $17.9 million. To date, three projects have been completed as part of this work and another four are expected to be completed in 2020.

The City and the TRCA have already begun accelerated flood and erosion control work at Toronto Island Park and several waterfront locations. The City is working closely with TRCA to deliver proactive and innovative solutions to mitigate the impacts of high lake water levels and shoreline flooding in Toronto.

Currently, Lake Ontario water levels are more than 12 centimetres above those recorded at the same time last year and record high levels are anticipated again this year. The City will continue to work closely with TRCA to monitor the conditions that contribute to high lake water levels as we move towards spring.

Accelerated flood mitigation work at Toronto Island Park and along Toronto’s waterfront includes:

  • Geotechnical assessment of road raising for 300 metres of Lakeshore Avenue and 200 metres of Cibola Avenue at Toronto Island Park
  • Construction of a Ward's Island beach curb
  • Construction of a berm or an increase in the existing seawall’s height at an Algonquin Island, pending the outcome of engineering investigations
  • Drainage improvements to the Cherry Beach off-leash area shoreline
  • Construction of a natural barrier at the Eastern Beaches

These permanent long-term flood mitigation measures build on work completed in previous years. The proactive mitigation efforts implemented in 2018, including erosion control projects, shoreline infrastructure, trail and pathway work, and asset infrastructure, effectively reduced the impact of the 2019 flooding. The City also used a dozen industrial water pumps, 100-foot aquadams and more than 1,000 metre bags and 45,000 sandbags to prevent further damage.

Our Toronto Islands are a jewel of our city and are treasured by residents both on and off the Islands. Toronto Island Park is a well-loved destination, with more than a million visits every year. On busy days in the summer up to 20,000 people ride the ferry in a single day. Our flood mitigation work is not just critical for residents and business on the Islands, it is significant for our entire city. 

As I have said many times before, as the climate crisis accelerates, annual sandbagging cannot be the solution. We are committed to doing everything possible to protect our beloved Toronto Islands, and will continue to work closely with senior City staff and the TRCA to implement long-term flood mitigation plans. I will continue to post updates as they become available.