Are We Ready for Flood 2020?

A packed Toronto Flood Forum, held by the Toronto Island Community Association (TICA) and YQNA took place in the Brigantine Room in Harbourfront Centre on March 3, 2020. Many experts on the subject and speakers from three levels of government gave much needed information to anxious residents, who came from the Waterfront at large.

Current high water levels in Lake Ontario point to the strong possibility of flooding this spring, a repeat of 2017 and 2019. The Islands and the city of Toronto face serious risks to property and infrastructure, should lake levels go even higher than before. Flooding would affect residences, condo basements and hydro, combined storm sewers backing up, vital roadways, the extensive park system, major redevelopment, the Billy Bishop airport, water treatment plants, Waterfront businesses, boating clubs and our health.

City Councillor Joe Cressy, MPP Chris Glover and our MP Adam Vaughan agreed that better preparations and new plans to stem flooding were needed. So far, flood mapping and flood planning are in process, as well as mitigation projects for Waterfront parks.

Councillor Cressy pointed out that the old 2014 flooding plans were already outdated in 2014. “We need a complete rethink,” he said. He also pointed out the necessity of having at least one GTA member on The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board that controls outflows from Lake Ontario.

A video of the event, with additional footage, can be found at the United Shorelines Ontario Facebook page.

Lynn Robinson
Member of TICA

High Water Levels Threaten Waterfront

                                                                                                                    Photo: braziliandanny/imgur

There’s too much water in the Great Lakes—and with Lake Ontario being the lowest in elevation, it receives so much from the others that it has flooded coastlines and developments. It is challenging to restrict the flow of water from rivers, rain and spring run-off, but Lake Ontario levels have been successfully regulated in the past by the Moses-Saunders dam at Cornwall.

The Toronto Islands and numerous downtown buildings in Toronto have suffered millions of dollars in damage from flooding, especially in 2017 and 2019. Experts are concerned that unprecedented water levels are part of climate change and not a seasonal or passing problem. If so, more attention and new solutions are needed urgently, because an additional foot of water in the spring could top the already high levels at our doorstep. To learn more, YQNA put flooding first on the agenda in the November 19, 2019 meeting.

If lake levels can be controlled, who is in charge? Canada and America negotiated the Boundary Waters Treaty act in 1909, and the International Joint Commission (IJC) was established with three representatives from each country looking after this precious freshwater resource. In 1956, the IJC approved building of the Moses-Saunders Dam and the St. Lawrence Seaway, and release of water through the dam regulated water levels successfully for decades. Later, lobbying from various interest groups led to a new IJC plan for regulating water levels. It was implemented in 2017, and maximum levels gradually rose to a record high of 75.92 m, four feet above the average lake level.

From the detailed information that YQNA has gathered, it seems that IJC urgently needs to get ahead of next year’s forecast. YQNA has appealed for action from IJC and other parties with an active role and has informed major parties who would suffer financial losses in case of widespread flooding. Join the action by forwarding our letter to Councillor Joe Cressy ( and Mayor John Tory ( and others on our list of recipients.

New Flood Studies

Please be informed that three New Basement Flooding Improvements Studies have initiated for the area of “St Clair Ave to the Lake/Jane-Keele St to Don Valley Parkway.”

Kindly direct your members to to take the initial survey in order to help the City in determining the source of the flooding.  This is a first step to the study process.

A notice and newsletter (contains more information) are being emailed to BIAs and Ratepayer Associations for forwarding to their members.

The analysis includes curbside-survey (catchbasins), sewer modelling and technical analysis. In the coming months, the studies will determine the locations and size of sewer upgrades, underground storage, wet/dry ponds and other solutions to reduce the risk of future flooding. More details and updates are at

General Information:

1.    The study areas were determined by the underground sewershed (wastewater drainage system).  The drainage (sewer) systems for these three “bundled” Study Areas are: Mid-Town Interceptor, High Level Interceptor and Low Level Interceptor (trunk sewers). Due to the size of this bundle with over 100,000 homes and buildings, and the Ontario Class Environmental Assessment process, the study will take a few years to complete.

2.    Other flood protection initiatives are already underway, e.g. “find and fixes” of sewer infiltrations and leaks.  The City also has a subsidy of $3,400 Basement Flooding Protection Program (BFPP) for homeowners who install flood protection devices.  More information is at

We will provide more details and updates in the coming months.