Will Parts of Mississauga Parks Stay Closed All Summer?
It’s no secret that this summer has been brutal—endless days of rain accompanied by grey skies and flood warnings. There have hardly been any 30+ degree scorchers and no Canadian summer is complete without at least two-dozen days rife with humidity warnings and pleas not to leave loved ones in hot cars (please don’t leave your vulnerable loved ones in hot cars).
Recently, the Toronto Islands opened up to residents for the first time this summer (with only a month to spare before kids go back to school and about two months before the better weather is behind us). While people are celebrating that opening—and, fortunately, no Mississauga parks had to shut down entirely—some residents are disappointed that a number of popular Mississauga parks are still suffering due to high water levels.
As of now, there’s no public access to the lower promenade section of St. Lawrence Park, but the main waterfront trail is open to the public.
As for Marina Park, there’s currently no public access to the gravel parking lot and public access is also limited to part of the asphalt public parking lot (meaning limited parking spots are available). The charter docks and public boat launch are closed with no public access
Residents who visit JJ Plaus Park might notice that there’s no public access to the promenade adjacent to Snug Harbour. The walkway connection below Lakeshore Road between JJ Plaus and Memorial Park is also closed due to high water levels.
At a recent General Committee meeting, the city received a report that recommended capital reserve funding to the tune of $2.3 million to cover shoreline damage repair and restoration.
According to the report, the affected waterfront parks and shorelines received significant damage between April 30 and May 30, and water levels are still at unprecedented highs in Lake Ontario.
As you may recall, there were two significant storm events—one on April 30 and another on May 5—with intense wind and precipitation that exceeded the 100-year design water level. It’s been estimated that the wave height during the April 30 storm reached three metres (approximately 10 feet).
In April 2017, Lake Ontario rose by 44 centimetres (17 inches) followed by an additional 25 centimetres (10 inches) in the first nine days of May. The Credit Valley Conservation Flood Watch reports that Lake Ontario is at the highest level it has been since reliable recording began in 1918. As of June 1, the lake was 82 centimetres (32 inches) above its long-term average level for this time of year (though it has remained relatively stable since mid-May, despite additional rainfall).
As for other affected areas, the city says other impacted shorelines include Lakefront Promenade Park, Adamson Estate, Helen Molasy Park, Tall Oaks Park, Harding Estate, Jack Darling Park, Rhododendron Gardens, Lakeside Park, Richards Memorial and Watersedge Park.
Naturally, the damage has hurt some coffers.
The report says the high water conditions have had an impact on the Charter Fishermen businesses that operate out of Marina Park and that revenue has also been impacted at recreational boat slips and the LFPM fuel dock. In terms of hard numbers, the marinas have lost $140,000 as of June 7—a 20 per cent drop.
Another local business-the famed Snug Harbour restaurant—was also impacted by high waters. In late May, the iconic waterfront hotspot was forced to shutter its doors temporarily due to flooding.
It has since reopened.
As far as safety goes, temporary fencing has been installed to ensure no one can access the compromised areas. Sandbag structures have also been placed at various locations to prevent further damage.
While water levels remain high, the repair work is slated to commence as soon as possible.
But a major question remains: will the parks fully reopen this summer?
“Portions of the parks remain closed - they will not reopen until water levels recede so that full repairs can be assessed and scheduled for completion,” says Laura Piette, director of Parks and Forestry at the City of Mississauga. “In the meantime, sites have been made safe and access restricted in certain areas.”
Since water levels will depend on how wet or dry the rest of the summer is, it’s hard to say what will happen to the closed portions of the parks this summer.
The city is reminding people to please exercise extreme caution along the Lake Ontario shoreline and all bodies of water. Children and pets should be warned to stay away from all watercourses.