Sandbags and sump pumps being used to protect Toronto islands against flooding

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Toronto Island
Canada 2009 - Toronto Island

TORONTO — Residents and city staff are using sandbags and sump pumps to protect the Toronto islands against rising water levels on Lake Ontario.

City officials say 15,000 sandbags were distributed across the islands as of Wednesday morning, with another 9,000 set to be put in place over the coming two days.

Thirty industrial sump pumps have also been strategically deployed and are working around the clock to help mitigate the problem.

The intensified effort comes after high winds last week caused waves that knocked some sandbags clear, allowing water to flow onto the islands and reach some residents’ doors.

The Toronto Region Conservation Authority says average water levels across the islands are at 75.9 metres above sea level, which is approaching the record set during a previous flood in 2017.

In a news conference Wednesday morning, Coun. Joe Cressy said yearly sandbagging efforts aren’t enough, and the city needs a long-term plan to adapt to climate change.

“This isn’t unique to the islands. Right along the waterfront, and other areas of the city that are in flood plains, need to have physical infrastructure … to ensure that they are protected from rising water levels,” said Cressy.

“If we don’t get in front of it, the water will consume us.”