The Toronto Islands will reopen to the public on Monday but the city is warning visitors that some beaches will be in a “reduced state” amid water levels that remain high.
Access to the islands has been restricted to residents and essential personnel only since heavy flooding first began on the islands in early May.
The city initially cancelled all permits for events that were booked for the islands until June 30 and then extended the prohibition to July 31.
Flooding, however, has now receded to a point that the city is able to partially reopen the islands to visitors.
In a news release issued Thursday morning, the city said that most parts of the island will be open as of Monday morning, including Centre Island, Centreville Theme Park, Ward's Island and Hanlan's Point.
Ferries will be operating according to normal summer hours with extra staff on hand at the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal to do deal with an expected uptick in visitors.
"I know that for many Torontonians summer isn't complete without a visit to the Toronto Islands, which is why I'm so pleased that the park is being reopened for residents and visitors to enjoy," Mayor John Tory said in a press release. "I want to thank city staff for their tireless and ongoing commitment to preserving and restoring the island park and to residents for their patience throughout this unprecedented event."
The city says that all beaches on the island will be open with lifeguards on duty but it cautions that some will be in a “reduced state” with signs indication which areas are off-limits.
Olympic Island will also remain closed due to high water levels and the grandtsand at Centre Island will be off-limits.
“Things are getting back to a more normal condition but people are still going to notice a difference,” City of Toronto spokesperson Wynna Brown told CP24. “All the beaches on the island will be open but people will see that they are in a reduced state. There is quite a bit of erosion that has taken place and water levels are still high.”
Brown said that there will be a number of signs advising visitors of where they can and can’t go on the Toronto Islands.
As for events planned for the islands, the city says that permits will “be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.”
Amusement park holding job fair
The closure of the Toronto Islands meant that the Centre Island amusement park was unable to open for the season, as scheduled.
The amusement park ordinarily attracts thousands of visitors in the spring and summer but has now been shuttered for about 80 days, according to owner Bill Beasley.
“It has just been terrible,” Beasley told CP24 on Thursday. “We will make it through but god help us if this happens again next summer.”
Beasley said that in order to make sure that the amusement park is ready to open on Monday, he will be holding a job fair at Jack Layton Ferry Terminal between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. today and tomorrow.
He said he plans to hire about 100 people “on the spot” with the goal of having them on the job Monday.
“We have been closed for two months. It is going to be busy,” he said.
The city has previously estimated that the flooding on the islands would carry a cost of about $4.88 million by the end of July, mostly due to lost ferry revenue and the cancellation of permits.