The City of Toronto is taking action to make sure its beaches offer an enjoyable swimming experience for all.
On Monday, the City announced that it will fast-track its Don River and Central Waterfront (DRCW) project to 2030, which is eight years earlier than planned. The $2.5 billion project is now seeking funding from the federal and/or provincial governments in order to make Toronto’s beach waters more swimmable.
“This project is the largest of its kind in Canada and will improve water quality in the Lower Don River, Taylor-Massey Creek and Toronto’s Inner Harbour in Lake Ontario,” a news release noted.
The project involves building large tanks and tunnels underground to “capture, store and treat combined sewer overflows” that occur during heavy rainfall or snow melts. In addition to improving water quality, this will also reduce algae growth and improve the habitat for aquatic wildlife.
Thus far, the City of Toronto has contributed $1.022 billion towards the project, which kicked off in fall 2018. The City is now looking for federal and/or provincial funding to make up the remaining $1.051 billion needed to complete the project.
“I am committed to speeding up the essential work we need to do to protect our waterways,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement. “I’m confident that we can work with the federal and provincial governments to complete this work almost a decade earlier than planned for the good of our waterfront and our environment.”
Toronto’s waterfront has been listed as one of 43 polluted “Areas of Concern” in the Great Lakes Basin since 1987, according to the City’s website. That’s why this accelerated project could make a real difference.
Toronto’s beaches haven’t had it easy this summer. Flooding issues continue to plague the Toronto Islands, which has led to the closure of Hanlan’s Point Beach. And on top of that, earlier this month, two other beaches — Sunnyside and Marie Curtis Park East Beach — were closed due to high levels of E. coli making the water unswimmable.
Torontonians love their beach days, which is why the City continues to take measures to ensure water quality is safe. Between June and Labour Day, water samples are taken from Toronto’s beaches daily to test for E. coli, the City’s website notes.
E. coli can put people at risk of infection, and can cause abdominal cramps, nausea and other side effects. So when high levels of the bacteria are detected, Toronto Public Health warns visitors against swimming.