40% of Toronto Islands underwater, more than half the buildings 'at risk,' city warns

Mayor John Tory warned Torontonians Friday that flooding could keep Toronto Island Park off limits to the public until late June.

Toronto Island Park will be closed to the public likely into late June, Tory says.

Toronto Mayor John Tory tours the shoreline of Ward's Island with residents to inspect damage caused by flooding. (Chris Mulligan/CBC News)

Toronto Island Park will remain closed through the May long weekend and likely into late June, as overland flooding continues to creep onto shorelines, Toronto Mayor John Tory said Friday.

City officials confirm 40 per cent of the islands remain underwater and over half of the buildings on the park are "at risk."

Tory travelled by ferry to meet with island residents and to survey the ongoing damage as city staff continued to work on sandbagging the shoreline and running industrial pumps.

Tory said residents told him they were impressed by the city's response. 

Island residents told reporters the city's response and efforts have helped stem the tide of the flooding. (Chris Mulligan/CBC News)

"[Residents] are a pretty sturdy bunch but they nonetheless feel that all the plans have been made to make sure they stay safe, and that if it gets worse, they will continue to be safe," Tory told reporters. 

Flooding has already caused cancellations and delays in the early summer schedule.

Weddings at Artscape Gibraltar Point have been re-scheduled until further notice, the opening of Centreville is delayed and the students of Toronto Island Park Public School have been relocated to Nelson Mandela Park Public School.

Mayor Tory: Toronto Island closed until end of June, maybe longer

6 years ago
Duration 1:00
Mayor John Tory ferried to the Toronto Islands to tour remaining flooded areas and to speak to island residents.

Tory added that the closure of the islands to non-residents is intended to be a safety precaution. 

"There are buildings that are at risk and we don't need them to be in a place that could potentially be unsafe or to possibly cause further risk,"

Multiple residents said it had been decades since they'd seen the water level of Lake Ontario rise as high as it's been for the last month.

Spring runoff is continuing to flow into the lake and the city said its big concern is heavy winds, which could push more water back onto the island shore – even without further rain in the forecast. 

20,000 sandbags have lined the shores and homes on the islands. (Chris Mulligan/CBC News)

Island resident Vivian Pitcher called the city's sandbagging and draining effort "awesome."

"Other places said they didn't get enough support but look at that support, look at the bags," Pitcher added. 

Tory said large parts of the island would remain closed until late June and possibly until early July if water levels don't subside.