Toronto

Closures, race cancellations at sailing clubs across Ontario amid high lake levels

It's just the latest ripple effect of rising lake levels, which have left lakefront communities across the GTA scrambling to sandbag and flood-proof homes.

Rising lake levels have left lakefront communities scrambling to sandbag, protect homes

It might be tricky for some boaters to get onto the water this spring, as high lake levels have created safety concerns and led to yacht club closures. (CBC)

It won't be smooth sailing in Ontario this spring.

Sailing clubs across the province are being forced to close to visitors or cancel races amid high water levels on Lake Ontario and other bodies of water, according to Ontario Sailing, the governing body for the sport in Ontario.

Lake Ontario's water levels are the highest, explained Glenn Lethbridge, executive director of Ontario Sailing, but he said clubs throughout the Muskoka and Ottawa regions are also facing issues.

"It's ironic people think — what would be the issue about having too much water in the lakes?" he said. "But unfortunately, with high water, it's affecting docks at our clubs, in some cases the clubs themselves because they're getting water in the buildings and parking areas."

With so much rain, there's also been lots of debris washed into bodies of water, which can also be dangerous for boats, he said.

In Oakville, the Bronte Harbour Yacht Club is among the clubs feeling the sting.

Richard Bissonnette, commodore of the club, said he's been a member for nearly three decades and has been living in Oakville since 1983. "I think this is the highest I ever recall the water," he said.

The floating docks anchored to the sea wall are pointing upwards, Bissonnette said, and boaters are concerned about the high amount of floating debris.

The club has delayed the start of its racing program for safety reasons, he said.

It's a similar scene at the Oakville Power Boat Club, which says all of the boats are still on land, and 90 per cent of the docks are under water.

Lake Ontario levels expected to keep rising

The club closures are just the latest ripple effect of rising lake levels, which have left lakefront communities across the GTA scrambling to sandbag and flood-proof homes.

Large portions of the Toronto Islands, for instance, are underwater, and all beaches remain closed "until further notice," while all event permits for Toronto Island Park up until June 30 have been cancelled.

The City of Toronto issued a release Tuesday that said even without rainfall, Lake Ontario's water levels are expected to rise for several more weeks.

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