The Toronto Islands are bracing for another flood.
This time it’ll be waves of visitors arriving at the city’s lake oasis, bringing the sweet waft of sunscreen and the laughter of summer fun.
Toronto Island Park opens again Monday. Flooding had shuttered the islands since mid-May — it was so bad, carp were swimming over one submerged baseball diamond — but our island in the sun is open for business once again.
“I’m expecting a bit of a crazy day on Monday,” says longtime Algonquin Island resident Linda Rosenbaum. “I think we’ve all been quite amazed at what a major event the closing of the island has been for Torontonians and how people are looking forward to coming back.”
The ferries will begin chugging from the mainland at 6:30 a.m., the first off to Ward’s Island. At 8 a.m., escapees from the city’s summer’s heat can begin returning to Centre Island. Ferries have been running to Ward’s — a largely residential island — during the clean up but with limited access.
It’s taken a monumental effort to get the park ready again. The city used 27 pumps, including nine industrial-sized units, 24 hours a day to remove surface pooling. There are pumps still in operation on the islands. They also moved earth, used more than 45,000 sand bags — many of which are still visible — and dumped gravel in some areas in a race to get the park open by Monday’s self-imposed deadline.
At peak flooding, water covered more than 40 per cent of the island’s surface as Lake Ontario recorded its highest water level in decades. Even now, the beaches appear as if much of the sand has been removed for the bags used to stem the push of lapping waves.
The beach on Ward’s Island, for example, is about a quarter of what it once was.
“Better get there early if you want a spot,” said Susan Roy, another longtime resident.
Crews continued to work Sunday, raking landfill into wet spots along the roadway between Ward’s and Centre Islands.
“We’re trying our…