Water levels in Lake Ontario reached the highest recorded level in history on Thursday, causing flooding on the Toronto Islands and halting ferry services.
The rising lake levels caused water to flood areas within the Algonquin Island, according to a statement from Coun. Joe Cressy. Staff pumped between 20 cm. and 30 cm. of lake water from public and private areas.
Rising water levels caused ferry service to Hanlan’s Point to stop running for vehicles and pedestrians, Cressy said. The surrounding area of Gibraltar Point has also been closed off, he wrote.
Rehana Rajabali, senior manager of flood risk management for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, confirmed that maximum water levels of 76.03 metres were recorded in Toronto over a 24-hour period from Wednesday to Thursday.
Before now, the record high was during the 2017 Lake Ontario flooding, at 75.93 metres, said Rajabali, making Thursday’s levels the highest ever recorded for the lake.
At a press conference Wednesday, Cressy said that it was the city’s “commitment to ensure the Island is open and safe.” He said 30 industrial pumps and 15,000 sandbags had been deployed to cope with the flooding, and here were 9,000 more sandbags to come.
In his statement Thursday, Cressy confirmed that 24,000 sandbags are deployed on the Island, and that 30 more metre-bags have been added to vulnerable areas, such as residential communities.
City park staff are working around the clock to mitigate the flooding.
According to waterfront district manager James Dann, even more staff will be on the Island working to cope with the floodwater Thursday, as windy weather is forecast.
In his statement, Cressy said that, due to the wind, “significant wave action” may create breaches of water across the Islands.
However, as of Thursday afternoon, the Islands remained open to the public and the school was still running, he said.
Throughout the spring, Islands residents and city staff have been filling sandbags in hopes of holding off the rising water.
The city needs to come up with a long-term plan for flood mitigation, said Cressy. “As the climate crisis accelerates, annual sandbagging cannot be the solution.”
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority will release a detailed report on the measures on June 21.
Emma Sandri is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @emmarosesandri
Rhianna Jackson-Kelso is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @RhiannaJK