Toronto Island closed until further notice due to high water levels
Centreville, an amusement park on Toronto Island, has been closed due to flooding. (Danny Pinto/ CTV News Toronto)
Codi Wilson and Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, May 16, 2017 9:06AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 16, 2017 2:49PM EDT
A significant portion of Toronto Island likely won’t be up and running until at least July as the city deals with rising water levels.
In a news release issued Tuesday, the city said Toronto Island Park and all three beaches—Hanlan’s Point, Gibraltar Point and Centre Island—remain closed due to flooding until further notice.
All Toronto Island Park permits up to June 30 have been cancelled and Centreville will remain closed until at least June 30.
The city says staff are currently monitoring the situation and plan to work with the amusement park operator to open as soon as water levels have receded to safe levels.
“This spring, Toronto experienced high levels of rainfall and as a result, Lake Ontario and watershed levels throughout the city continue to rise. The City has been working closely with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority to monitor Lake Ontario water levels, which are expected to rise, even without further rainfall, for several more weeks,” the news release read.
“Even at the current levels, experts advise it will likely take several weeks for the water to subside.”
Ferry access to Toronto Island Park is currently restricted to residents and select personnel. Many amenities on Toronto Island Park, including parks, trails, beaches and businesses are also closed due to flooding.
That includes Centreville Amusement Park, a popular attraction for tourists and families during the spring and summer.
Bill Beasley, president of Centreville operator Beasley Entertainment, said that he’s working with city staff to see if they might be able to open Centreville earlier.
“Things can change. I was speaking with city officials earlier today and we’re trying to work on a solution,” Beasley told CP24. “There’s a very slight possibility that we could get open maybe this weekend or hopefully before the end of May. We’re still working and assessing so it’s going to be day by day.”
Beasley said the closure of the island to visitors comes at a particularly bad time in terms of expected attendance, but said safety is the first priority.
“This weekend is a long weekend and there’s generally 15-20,000 people coming over every day, so that’s 50,000 people in three days,” he said. “So we want to make sure that if we do get open, it’s going to be safe. We want to make sure the fire and ambulance and ferries can properly service the people who want to get over here.”
Flooding on the island has also prompted a last-minute venue change for a music festival that was scheduled to take place at Hanlan’s Point over the long weekend. The Electric Island event, set to be held May 22, will now take place at Woodbine Beach for the season opener. Organizers say previously purchased tickets will be valid at the new location.
In the meantime, the city says it is continuing to work with island residents to prevent or minimize flooding and related issues.
Approximately 20,000 sandbags have been placed on the shorelines throughout the city and Toronto Island to date.
Five industrial pumps are being utilized to remove surface pooling.
As a health and safety precaution, beginning May 17 the city says staff from the Office of Emergency Management and the Canadian Red Cross will be on site to perform wellness checks on residents of the island.
“These checks are intended to assist residents with any concerns they might have while remaining in their residences during this difficult flood event,” the news release read.
Mayor John Tory said he has asked for a full briefing on the situation on the island by no later than tomorrow.
"You cannot have people on the island in unsafe conditions or where there is a real threat to damaging the island," he told reporters Tuesday.
"The park is a hugely valuable asset for our people who live in Toronto and also for tourists. We just have to make sure we take care of it and people are safe when they are allowed to go there."