May 31 Toronto Islands Flood Mitigation Updates
As expected, Lake Ontario levels have continued to rise and have now exceeded the highest recorded level in Lake Ontario history. Depending on rainfall, water levels will begin to drop in 1-3 weeks. While lake levels remain high, and even once they begin to fall, surges due to local wind conditions have the potential to cause waves to breach at several locations. Staff are continuing to prepare, respond & monitor changing conditions.
The Islands remain open to visitors, a credit to preparations made since 2017 and the ongoing hard work of staff, residents, businesses and volunteers. In the last day, 50 volunteer Toronto Fire Services members have helped fill 9,000 additional sand bags for use throughout the Islands, bringing the total to 27,000 deployed. I would like to thank Chief Pegg and the Toronto Fire Services team for stepping up and providing additional support.
Centre Island is accessible and mostly dry, and Centreville Amusement Park is open. Ward's Island fared well during the recent wave surge, with some inundation of walkways.
Other areas continue to be restricted due to conditions. 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. Cibola Avenue is covered with water at main points. Part of Algonquin Island is recovering from breaches from a wind surge.
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. Due to the tremendous efforts of many, one of Toronto's most treasured parks and communities has been kept open for visitors and residents to enjoy as we head into warmer months, even as we experience historic lake water levels. I will continue to monitor conditions daily, and provide updates as we receive recommendations on long-term mitigation measures in June.
I will provide updates as conditions evolve.