Lake level back to normal after 2017 flooding, damage remains

Published on Tuesday, 24th Apr, 2018 at 1:33am


Beach chairs are buried in sand on Woodbine Beach after flooding in the spring of 2017

Photo: Beachify

Chairs buried in sand on Woodbine Beach after flooding in the spring of 2017


A year ago, the Beach was underwater as Lake Ontario overflowed its shores due to heavy rain and snow melt. The spring of 2017 saw record-high lake levels and extensive flooding, and while lake levels have returned to normal, the damage will take time to repair.

Between January and May of last year, the lake level rose by nearly 1.4 meters (4.5 feet), fed by heavy spring rains and snow melt throughout the great lakes basin.


 A chart of Lake Ontario water levels as of April 23, 2018

US Army Corp of Engineers

A chart showing Lake Ontario water levels as of April 23, 2018. Water levels from 2017 are shown in red. The blue line shows that current levels are near the long-term average (grey).

The high lake levels, coupled with a series of southerly storms, created widespread flooding and damage all along the shores of Lake Ontario. In the Beaches, Woodbine Beach was heavily flooded, with carp spawning on what is normally dry sand. Leuty Lifeguard Station was threatened, and only emergency sandbagging and rock armouring operations prevented the landmark from being inundated. The City is spending $200,000 this year to raise the station by 1 to 1.5 meters in order to prevent damage from future flooding.


Waves pound the boardwalk as a spring storm drives high water onto shore, May 5, 2017.

Photo: Beachify

Waves pound the boardwalk as a spring storm drives high water onto shore, May 5, 2017.

The high water and storms eroded beaches and undermined parts of the boardwalk along a 2 km stretch of beach front. The shoreline of the dog park was also heavily damaged, with numerous stands of trees destroyed and sections of the park flooded.


A heavy surfs flood the dog park at Leuty as a spring storm drives high water onto shore, May 5, 2017.

Photo: Beachify

Heavy surf floods the dog park at Leuty during a spring storm, May 5, 2017.

Quick action at the time by the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) helped limit the damage, much of which has since been repaired. By raising the Leuty Lifeguard Station, the City hopes to prevent future damage to the historic structure. The City has also been fighting a losing battle for the last few years against sand and gravel infill of the bay at Leuty, while the dock has been repeatedly repaired and then destroyed by ice, storms and high water.


 The bay at Leuty has been infilled with sand and gravel, while the dock has been repeated destroyed by high water levels, ice and storms

Photo: Beachify

The bay at Leuty has been infilled with sand and gravel, while the dock has been repeated destroyed by high water levels, ice and storms.