Toronto Islands closed until further notice as water levels continue to rise
Published Tuesday, May 16, 2017 10:01AM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 16, 2017 6:45PM EDT
You may have to take a rain check on your trip to Toronto Island this Victoria Day weekend as much of it will remain closed due to flooding and rising water levels.
Much of Toronto Island Park will be closed to the general public until at least July as concerns about rising water levels remain high, officials said Tuesday.
The city said even without further rainfall, the water is expected to rise over the next month and will likely take several weeks to subside.
The flooding has left many public areas completely inaccessible.
The concerns have prompted the city to cancel all permits for Toronto Island Park up to June 30.
Centreville will also remain closed until that time. The city says it is monitoring the situation and will work with the theme park operator to determine when it’s safe to reopen.
Spokesperson for Beasley Entertainment, which owns Centreville, Bill Beasley said the decision on when to reopen will be made week-by-week moving forward. As well, they will not open as long as there is no ferry service available.
Meanwhile, ferry access to Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point has been suspended. Only the Ward’s Island ferry is currently operating but it remains restricted to residents, employees and city crews until further notice.
All three beaches on the island – including Hanlan’s Point, Gibraltar Point and Centre Island beaches -- are reportedly under water and will also be closed until further notice.
These closures have forced Toronto techno festival Electric Island to relocate. The event, which was supposed to be held on Hanlan’s Point on Monday, will now take place at Woodbine Park due to flooding.
In a photo posted to Reddit on Monday, dozens of large carp can be seen swimming through the flood waters of a baseball diamond.
The city advises residents to avoid Toronto Island Park as many of its parks, trails, beaches, business and Centre Island's amusement park have been affected by flooding.
Beasley told CP24 Tuesday that he's been in contact with city officials about the possibility of reopening the park as early as this weekend. He said the Victoria Day weekend attracts more than 50,000 people to the amusement park annually.
"The city obviously wants everything to be safe and secure and they’re worried about the infrastructure and the rest of it, so they like to come out with official statements like that. Things can change,” he said.
“So want to make sure that if we do get open, it’s going to be safe. We want to make sure the fire and ambulance and ferries can properly service the people who want to get over here.”
Mayor John Tory told reporters on Tuesday that he has asked for a full briefing on the situation by Wednesday as it affects visitors and residents of the island.
“I think we just need to make sure that as long as there are people living there they are safe and that we accommodate things like flooding as best we can with the park,” Tory said. “The park is a hugely valuable for our people who live in Toronto and also for tourists. We just have to make sure we take care of it and people are safe when they are allowed to go there.”
Earlier this month, the city restricted access to the island to residents-only after two weeks of consistent rainfall caused Lake Ontario to swell to dangerous levels.
Over the course of two days, the lake rose 15 centimetres and breached the shoreline on various areas on the island.
Emergency evacuation plans were set in place for the 700 island residents in case the heavy rains and floods put their safety at risk.
Though a full evacuation was never deemed necessary, elementary students and staff from the local school were located for one day to a school on the mainland.
The city says approximately 20,000 sandbags have been placed along the shorelines to mitigate the rising water and five large industrial pumps have been used to alleviate pooling.
Members of the Canadian Red Cross and the Office of Emergency Management will be available on the island and will perform wellness checks on island residents starting on Wednesday.