Toronto

Mayor surveys beach after rainfall warning ends for Toronto

Mayor John Tory toured part of a beach in east Toronto on Saturday to survey damage done after two days of heavy rain.

John Tory says high water levels mean city needs to try again to reclaim beach

Mayor John Tory toured part of a beach in east Toronto on Saturday to survey damage done after two days of heavy rain. (Twitter)

Mayor John Tory toured part of a beach in east Toronto on Saturday to survey damage done after two days of heavy rain.

Tory walked along part of Woodbine Beach after Environment Canada ended its rainfall warning for the city. The mayor noted that rising water levels in Lake Ontario have reduced part of the beach.

Recent work done to reclaim submerged areas will have to begin again due to wind and waves, he said.

"It's Mother Nature at work," ​Tory told reporters early Saturday. "The good news here is there is really no safety risk to anybody and there's not much risk to property." 

Significant rainfall is not expected in Toronto on Saturday and the spring rain storm that soaked the city in the past two days has headed east. 

(Natalie Nanowski/CBC)

The federal agency has also ended its rainfall warning for Peel, Halton, York and Durham regions and Hamilton.

Environment Canada said the forecast for Toronto calls for light rain on Saturday.

High water levels at the beach are due more to lake levels than recent rain, Tory said, although the heavy rain has made both situations worse.

Lake Ontario levels to rise in May

James Dann, manager of waterfront parks for the city, said lake levels are expected to rise for the rest of this month.

"They are definitely rising and they are definitely at historic highs. We are not finished yet. They are anticipating that water levels will continue to rise throughout this month of May," he said.

Dann said an emergency fund of about $150,000 is in place to cover the costs of work, staff labour, bulldozers, heavy equipment and sandbags to deal with the beach and the islands.

James Dann, manager of waterfront parks for the city, said an emergency fund of about $150,000 is in place to cover the costs of protecting the beach and Toronto Islands from rising lake levels. (CBC)

"This is not something where we are focused on the cost," he said. "We are focused on the solution and getting the best service that we can to get the beaches back and get the island safe again."

Dann said the work is being done with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

He said, judging from historical data collected since 1974, the pooling of water on Woodbine Beach is not typical.

"To this level, absolutely, we have never had anything like this," he said. "That is brand new from a historical water level standpoint." 

Dann said damage done to roadways, docks and homes on the island cannot be assessed until the water recedes.

Taylor-Massey Creek near Warden Woods is swollen after recent rains. The Toronto and Region Conservation is urging residents to use caution around waterways. (Muriel Draaisma/CBC)

As for the Don Valley Parkway, the mayor said no problems are anticipated and the roadway is monitored around the clock for flooding.

"I think we got a bit lucky yesterday with the rain not being as intense as they expected it to be," Tory said.

Rob Kuhn, severe weather meteorologist for Environment Canada based in Toronto, said the heavy rain came from a large, moisture laden low pressure system that originated over Texas. It is now in eastern Ontario and heading into Quebec. 

The system triggered prolonged significant rainfall over two days, including more than 50 millimetres in some areas of Southern Ontario and in downtown Toronto. He said the moisture originally came from the tropics. Kuhn said the bulk of the rain fell on Friday.

"The good news is today and tonight it will still be wet but just a few showers now. There will be times when it will be not raining. Any additional rain that does fall today and tonight will be less than five millimetres," he said.

"It was a classic spring rainstorm. It just happened to last almost two days."

Environment Canada says Toronto was hit by a "classic spring rainstorm" and the ground is now saturated. (Muriel Draaisma/CBC)

Relief is in sight, he said. While the forecast calls for a high of 8 C on Saturday, with a low of 4 C, the temperature is expected to be 6 C on Sunday, which will be a brisk cool day and mostly cloudy with a 40 per cent chance of showers and a low of 1 C. 

Wet flurries are in the forecast overnight Saturday and on Sunday for areas north and west of Toronto. 

"Tomorrow night, finally, we might start seeing some breaks in the cloud, but we still might have the odd shower or wet flurry," he said.

In Toronto, the high is expected to be 7 C on Monday and and 12 C on Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to be dry. 

According to the Toronto and Region Conservation, Toronto remains under a flood watch and residents are urged to use extreme caution when near bodies of water.

With files from Natalie Nanowski

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