Toronto Mayor John Tory says he’s ordered a full report on the Toronto Island flood as repairs near completion, but he warned the public that some favoured spots on the island won’t look the same as they did before when visitors are allowed to return.
Since May 16, public access to much of Toronto Island was restricted as the highest Lake Ontario water levels in 65 years caused water to cover as much as half of the island’s surface at its peak.
Waters flooded beaches, forced the relocation of the Island’s lone public school and threatened dozens of homes. If the Island re-opens on July 31 as promised, Tory says areas such as the prized beaches may not look the same as they did before the flooding.
“Some of those beaches are just gone because they’re just not there at the moment because the water levels are at a point where they just don’t exist,” Tory told reporters on Wednesday.
He said he has ordered city staff to do a full investigation into the floods, as well as what can be done to ensure the area is better prepared in the future, but he warns there are physical limits to what can be done.
“I am asking for a full report – so the next time this happens we can be better prepared. But a lot of this is stuff you can’t prepare for.”
He suggested the physical nature of the island itself is partly to blame for the flooding.
“The island is essentially a sandbar sitting out on the lake. Some of the water came up through the island itself and didn’t wash onto the shore from the lake.”
He said that ferry docks on the Island have been raised to accommodate the higher water levels on Lake Ontario, which may persist for years.
Other areas will be fenced off once visitors are allowed back, either because they are still submerged or are damaged to the point that stepping foot on them would be unsafe.
He reiterated that staff is working their hardest to make sure the Island is open by the end of the month.