Water levels at the Toronto Islands are on the rise again and over the last few weeks, the city has been hard at work to keep them from rising even further. Toronto's Chief Communications Officer Brad Ross previously told the public that access to the islands wouldn't be restricted this year due to flooding. However, with Hanlan's Point ferry service suspended, it appears that may soon change.
Spadina-Fort York Councillor Joe Cressy said yesterday, "Water levels have forced ferry service to be halted to Hanlan's Point for vehicles and pedestrians, and the area surrounding Gibraltar Point to be closed off. Toronto Hydro has confirmed that all infrastructure continues to operate safely." However, ferry service to Ward's Island and Centre Island remains operational.
CP24 reported this morning that Lake Ontario's water level surpassed the previous high recorded in April 2017. As of Thursday, the water level was recorded at 76.03 metres above sea level. In 2017, the recorded high was 75.93 metres above sea level, which led to a three-month closure of the Toronto Islands. At the peak of the 2017 floods, 40% of the Islands were submerged underwater.
To make matters worse, CP24 reports that the flooding isn't supposed to peak for another 7 to ten days. Homes on the islands are already starting to flood, but city crews are doing all they can to prevent further damage.
"Staff continue to work around the clock to protect all areas of the Islands. 30 pumps continue to operate. 24,000 sand bags have been deployed, along with 30 meter bags in more vulnerable areas, including residential communities," says Cressy. Cressy also confirms that the Islands and the Island School remain open.
The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority reported last month that the Islands' beaches will undergo a noticeable change this season as shorelines become eroded and shortened. About 200 homes face the risk of flooding, CP24 reports.
"We are committed to doing everything possible to ensure the Islands remain safe & open. We continue to work closely with senior city & TRCA staff, & the Island community. However, as I have said before, as the climate crisis accelerates, annual sandbagging cannot be the solution." Cressy reminds the public that volunteers are always welcome and the city can use all the help they can get to protect the Island from flooding.