Toronto Islands Flood Mitigation - May 24th Updates and Long-Term Strategies

Our Toronto Islands are a jewel of our city and are treasured by residents both on and off the Islands.

The ongoing flooding challenges have been difficult for Island residents and local businesses, especially those just getting over the flood of 2017. Today I visited the Islands to ensure we are doing everything we can to protect this important park and community.

On May 1st and May 21st, I circulated updates on measures put in place to mitigate high lake levels causing flooding. You can read those updates here.

We have continued to experience rising water levels, on par with those we saw in 2017. Yesterday, high wind gusts from the northwest caused waves to breach sandbagged areas, allowing lake water to encroach the land. City staff are working evening shifts, and overnight, alongside the Island Emergency Management Committee, as they continue to respond.

Thanks to the hard work of so many, the Islands remain open, ferries are operating, the Island school is open, and significant infrastructure damage and residential flooding was prevented.

Our focus remains keeping the Island open and safe, and City staff are diligently working 24/7 to monitor, reposition sandbags, and operate pumps on site. Since 2017, $28 million has been allocated, including $3.5 million spent last year, to repair and strengthen mitigation measures on the Islands and along the Waterfront. Mitigation measures have included:

  • Ferry ramps modified, so that ferries can continue to operate safely;
  • Trenches and 20 industrial pumps secured and are on site;
  • Small and meter type sand bangs, as well as water dams, continue to be put in place;

While we continue our immediate efforts to mitigate flooding on the Islands, we must also acknowledge that the climate crisis is real, and having a devastating impact on communities across our city and province. As we work to mitigate impacts right now, we must adapt and plan for the future. Sandbagging on the Islands cannot become an annual tradition.

The City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (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.