Toronto Islands reopen after nearly 3-month closure due to spring flooding | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Toronto Islands reopen after nearly 3-month closure due to spring flooding

Ralph McQuinn, 54, owner of Toronto Harbour Water Taxi drives his new boat to the Toronto Islands in Toronto on Friday, May 19, 2017. The Toronto Islands, a popular summer destination for both city residents and tourists, reopened to the public on Monday after a nearly three-month closure due to flooding. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
July 31, 2017 - 8:06 AM

TORONTO - The Toronto Islands, a popular summer destination for both city residents and tourists, reopened to the public on Monday after a nearly three-month closure due to flooding.

Mayor John Tory was on hand to announce the reopening of the islands to the public, but noted some areas will remain off limits.

All beaches on Toronto Island Park — Centre Island Beach, Hanlan's Point Beach and Ward's Island Beach — will be open, however, portions of some beaches will remain closed.

The reopening was welcome news to island businesses, which rely on the busy summer season for a large portion of their revenue.

Bill Beasley runs the Centreville Amusement Park and says the attraction was unable to operate for 80 days due to the flooding, which amounts to about $8 million in lost revenue.

Beasley says the loss means his company will likely be selling the park's carousel — the ride that he says started Centreville when it opened in 1967 — to offset lost profits in excess of $1 million.

"We really don't want to sell it, it's such a beautiful piece in the centre of the park, but reality is such that we're in a financial situation that is pushing us towards accepting the offer," he said Monday.

If the sale goes through, Beasley said the carousel would be going to Carmel, Ind., where the mayor wants it as part of a revival of his town's centre.

Beasley said some, including Tory's office, have expressed interest in keeping the carousel at Centreville, but he said it would require a large donor stepping up with about $500,000 that would have to be matched by other smaller donations to stop the sale.

"The next week is critical to which way we're going," he said.

Beasley said he has a personal connection to the carousel — as a child he used to race his sister to get to ride the ostrich.

"It's going to be very sad to see it go," he said. "But business is business, we want to keep the park open and operating."

Heavy rains in the spring caused water levels in Lake Ontario to rise to record highs, closing the Toronto Islands to visitors as roads were washed out, trees fell over and carp spawned in puddles on the soggy ground.

Last year, more than 1.46 million people visited the islands and the city says warm-weather weekends typically see more than 20,000 people a day on the islands.

Tory has said the cost of fixing the damage done to the city's shorelines and the Toronto Islands will run to many millions of dollars.

"It really is one of the gems of the city's park system," Tory said Monday.

He urged residents and tourists to visit the islands and the businesses that have "suffered so much" from the closure.

The city said last week that preliminary numbers suggest the flooding and closure of the island had a financial impact of $4.9 million on its operating budget.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2017
The Canadian Press

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