Toronto Island volunteers target big pieces of debris washed ashore during flooding

A group of volunteers on Tuesday removed large, heavy items such as golf carts, old wooden piles and cables, boats and more items from the water along the shore of Lake Ontario around Toronto Island Park.

‘Boats, canoes, logs and all kinds of debris’ washed up when water levels were still high

Volunteers pulled a golf cart out of the water during a cleanup on the shore of Toronto Island on Tuesday. (CBC)

A group of volunteers on Tuesday removed large, heavy items such as golf carts, old wooden piles and cables, boats and more along the shore of Lake Ontario around the Toronto Island Park.

Dubbed the Toronto Islands Cleanup, the event was organized by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and the Living City Foundation.

Volunteers came from the Greater Toronto Sewer and Watermain Contractors Association, (GTSWCA), PortsToronto, Galcon Marine Ltd. and the city of Toronto's Parks, Forestry and Recreation department.

"All the boats and canoes and logs and all kinds of debris that came aground when the water levels were still high is all still here," Nancy Gaffney, waterfront specialist at TRCA, told CBC Toronto. Much of it washed ashore in the spring of 2017, when large swaths of Toronto Island Park were flooded due to rising water levels and heavy rains.

"There's some infrastructure," she said. "For example, bridges that have been falling apart that have been cordoned off," she said, adding they would be removed.

Gaffney said a lot of debris had washed up over the last few years as a result of the high water levels in the lake.

Nancy Gaffney says a lot of debris had washed up as a result of the high water levels. (CBC)

She said even though the cleanup exercise was planned for one day, they were prepared to return to continue the exercise if necessary.

OSWCA executive director Giovanni Cautillo, who organized a major clean-up effort at Scarborough Bluffs in May, was also on hand for Tuesday's exercise.

"We're doing our part. It's important to give back to the community and this is a small way to show that we're here and we care about Toronto," he said.

"We found when we did our first clean-up in May, water levels were still high so we couldn't access a lot of the stuff there."

OSWCA executive directive Giovanni Cautillo organized a major cleanup effort at Scarborough Bluffs in May. (CBC)