City of Toronto Continuing to Prepare for High Lake Levels

Climate change and the resulting extreme weather have 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. 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. 

The work to protect our waterfront cannot and will not stop due to COVID-19. I am committed, along with the City of Toronto and TRCA, to continuing preparations and mitigation efforts for high lake levels this year as a top priority.

  • The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has assigned a response team to focus on the 2020 flood season and coordinate the City's response with our partners. Emergency response plans are being updated to work under current directives to mitigate COVID-19.
  • All TRCA flood mitigation projects for Toronto's Waterfront and Toronto Islands continue to be categorized as "essential" business in the Province of Ontario's recently updated direction. These works are continuing with appropriate public health recommended separation protocols for workers.
  • On Toronto Islands, the Wards Island beach curb east of Wards dock is complete. The beach curb west of the dock is nearly complete. Urgent raising of roads to maintain emergency access in two priority locations is underway: a 300m stretch of Lake Shore Blvd near Gibraltar Point, and a 200m stretch on Cibola Avenue near the Fire Hall. Two weeks of preparatory work will be completed this week, and construction will follow.
  • Engineering assessment work on the sea wall at Algonquin Island continues and will determine a berm or raised wall solution.
  • Flood Mapping of different lake level elevations have been produced to inform Emergency Management planning. This information will be posted on a public portal on TRCA's website in the coming days.

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.

As I have said many times before, 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.

The City is working closely with TRCA to monitor the conditions that contribute to high lake water levels as we move through the spring. I will continue to provide updates as they become available.