Toronto Island’s public school will be relocated to the mainland as high water levels continue to encroach on the areas used to access the school, the Toronto District School Board says.
On Wednesday, the City of Toronto altered the access to the island to restrict students at Island Public School and the Natural Science School.
“While the school itself is dry, the roadways to and from the ferry docks have been affected by rising water levels. Student and staff safety is our top priority,” the board said in a news release.
So starting Thursday, students will instead report to Nelson Mandela Park Public School in Trefann Court.
The change will last for the remainder of the school year.
All trips for students to the Natural Science School have been cancelled.
Earlier Wednesday, Mayor John Tory said that water levels in Lake Ontario continue to rise, making any reopening of Toronto Island Park to the general public unlikely for the time being.
Tory made the comment to reporters at city hall on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after city staff decided to cancel all Toronto Island Park permits through June 30.
All three beaches on the islands — Hanlan’s Point, Gibraltar Point and Centre Island—also remain closed indefinitely due to the rising waters.
“They told me two weeks ago that the water levels were going to continue to rise and indeed it seems to be happening much as they said,” Tory said on Wednesday. “We are keeping an eye on it day by day, I get briefed on it every day and we will have to sort of see what seems prudent to do in the circumstances.”
Ferry access to Toronto Island Park has been restricted to residents and select personnel since heavy rains resulted in flooding on the islands on May 5.
The flooding has already prompted the closure of several businesses, including the Centreville amusement park, and has forced the relocation of a music festival scheduled for May 22.
Tory said that he did reach out to staff on Tuesday to enquire about why permits have been cancelled for the next six weeks instead of a shorter period but was informed that it was necessary to give permit holders proper notice.
“They really feel it is going to take some time to sort of drain the areas that are underwater right now and sort of make sure that the island won’t be endangered by people over there,” he said.
Approximately 20,000 sandbags have been deployed throughout the city so far this spring, with many of them lining the shorelines of the Toronto Islands.