Toronto under shoreline hazard warning as Lake Ontario water levels rise

Toronto remains under a shoreline hazard warning as water levels on Lake Ontario are expected to continue to rise in the next few weeks.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, which safeguards the city's watersheds, said Lake Ontario's water levels are currently below levels recorded in 2017, but given enough rain, the levels could reach those historic highs that caused flooding in and around the Toronto area and on the Toronto Islands.

"Whether or not the 2017 levels will be exceeded this year, will depend on precipitation in the coming weeks," the conservation authority says in the warning.

"Once peaked, water levels in Lake Ontario will then take several weeks to recede back down to normal levels."

As of Thursday, Lake Ontario's water level is 75.74 metres above sea level. For comparison, the water level reached a peak of 75.93 metres in 2017.

John Grierson/CBC

The conservation authority said "shortened" beaches, erosion, closures of trails and boardwalks, localized ponding and flooding have been observed at a number of areas in the Greater Toronto Area along the Lake Ontario shoreline. 

These areas include Budapest Park and Sunnyside Beach, Marilyn Bell Park, HTO Park, Harbour Square Park, Sugar Beach, Gibraltar Point on Toronto Islands, Woodbine Beach, Ashbridge's Bay Park, and Kew and Balmy Beaches.

Further east, areas also affected by high water levels are Bluffer's Park and Scarborough Bluffs, along the Doris McCarthy Trail and Guildwood Park shoreline, as well as Port Union near the mouth of Highland Creek, Rouge Beach Park, Frenchman's Bay shoreline, Rotary Park in Ajax and Paradise Park Beach.

Agency says there's a potential for landslides at the Bluffs

The conservation authority said it has issued a notice of caution specifically for the Scarborough Bluffs due to the potential for landslides.

Toronto residents are urged to exercise caution around all shoreline areas and to avoid areas that are flooded and being eroded. They are also being urged to obey all notices about trail closures. Children should be made aware of the dangers and closely supervised, it added.

"Boardwalks and other trails along Lake Ontario can be dangerous during times of high waves," the conservation authority says.

The warning remains in effect until next Friday unless it is updated or cancelled. It was first issued on Thursday.

It's going to be a wet Sunday night

Most of the rain this long weekend will be seen Sunday night, Environment Canada says.

Rob Kuhn with the federal weather agency says a cold front will be coming through Sunday night, so showers are expected between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m. on Monday morning.

"It will be a rain shower event, 5 to 10 mm, locally 25 mm, if you get a direct hit from a thunderstorm," says Kuhn. He says some areas might get away with just trace amounts of rain.

"This time of the year, it starts to get difficult because everybody gets soaked."