Lake Ontario levels expected to rise despite record levels

Even with the warmer temperatures in the forecast, and very little rain expected in the next few days, water levels in Lake Ontario are still on the rise.
Many waterfront properties on the island, including this one, are already flooded as water levels continue to rise. (CBC)

Even with the temperatures on the rise, and very little rain expected in the next few days, the water levels in Lake Ontario are still on the rise.

That's not unusual according to Nancy Gaffney, a Waterfront specialist with the Toronto and region conservation authority.

"It is a natural process, it happens every year. You know, the water levels go up in the spring, and go down in the fall"

Gaffney says, what is unusual, is the speed at which the levels are rising.

"April brought us so much rain so fast and the great lakes were draining into Lake Ontario very fast as well so both of those things together brought the water level up so fast."   

Residents use sandbags to protect the island waterfront as water levels are expected to continue to rise.

Beaches and waterfront property remain flooded in many areas around the islands.

Tell us what you think!

Help shape the future of CBC article pages by taking a quick survey.

"This is the highest water level we've ever seen in recorded history, in the U.S. they started recording in 1918 and Canada we started recording in 1960." Gaffney said.

The city is hoping the water levels will begin to recede by early June, but Gaffney says that is a slow process.

"It will recede at a much slower pace than it came up, so you will see that the Toronto Islands will continue to be very significantly impacted by the water levels. Even over the whole course of the month of June."

Water has seeped past this row of sandbags along a waterfront property on the Toronto Island.

There's also a massive clean-up that will have to happen when the water levels do go down. Gaffney says there is a surprising amount of debris that has washed up on the shore.

"Anything that was kind of hidden in all the rocks and everything else has all been pulled out and moved onto shore, so I do think there's going to be a fair amount of cleanup that will have to be done once the water recedes."

Yesterday, the City of Toronto confirmed that Toronto Island Park including Centreville Amusement Park will be closed until June 30. 

The city is hoping to have the islands reopened to the public by late June or early July, Gaffney says that is a reasonable expectation if everything goes according to plan.