Areas across the Toronto Islands faced increased flooding on Thursday night as rising water in Lake Ontario approached 2017 levels.
Brad Ross, a spokesperson for the City of Toronto, said Ward’s Island has been hit with the worst of the flooding.
“Winds have caused high waves in the harbour, breaching sandbagging efforts on the north shore of Toronto island,” Ross wrote in a tweet. “As a result, significant flooding is occurring near homes. Staff are on site now assessing damage and will begin restoring barriers and pumping water.”
While Hanlan’s Point and Centre Island are expected to see flooding, Centreville, a popular amusement park located on Centre Island, has not yet been damaged.
Flooding on Olympic Island is only currently affecting trees and bush, according to the city.
Ross said crews will have “all hands on deck” tonight to mitigate the damage and the focus is on pumping out water from residential areas.
Non-essential vehicles from the mainland will not be allowed onto the islands for the next 72 hours, Ross noted.
He said there is no danger to public safety and no evacuations have been ordered.
Last week, the TRCA extended its shoreline hazard warning, suggesting that it is “reasonable to expect” similar Lake Ontario water levels that were seen in 2017, when devastating flooding closed the Toronto Islands for months during the summer and swamped beaches.
“Whether or not the 2017 levels will be exceeded this year, will depend on precipitation in the coming weeks,” the TRCA’s statement read. “Once peaked, water levels in Lake Ontario will then take several weeks to recede back down to normal levels.”
Ross said following the 2017 flooding, the city partnered with the Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) to protect the shoreline on the mainland and on the islands.
Approximately 50,000 sand bags have been on the islands along with 25 industrial pumps and six aqueducts.
Speaking to CP24 on Thursday afternoon, Ross said the islands have experienced some flooding so far this year but nothing close to what was observed two years ago.
“We continue to see breaches and staff are dealing with that seven days a week to protect the island, to protect the homes, to protect the businesses, to protect the infrastructure that is there, but the island will remain open,” Ross said.
The TRCA says impacts to shoreline areas, such as erosion, boardwalk and trail closures, as well as localized ponding, have been observed at a number of locations around Toronto, including Sunnyside Beach, Sugar Beach, and Woodbine Beach.
“At Woodbine Beach, for example, the shoreline is significantly higher than it would normally be. The infrastructure, property is not being threatened right now,” Ross said.
According to Environment Canada, more wet weather is likely on the way.
The national weather agency says Toronto could see showers on Thursday evening and more rain on Saturday.