Across the world, cities have embraced their waterfront and allowed the public to connect with the nearby water in their harbours and ports. The local connection to the ports and harbours in urban cities can be seen at the stunning swimming piers in the hearts of their urban centre. In Kingston, Ontario there is the Gord Edgar Downie Pier, in Oslo, Norway there is the Sørenga Seawater Pool and in Copenhagen, Denmark people can swim at Islands Brygge Harbour Bath. As the Toronto Waterfront is redeveloped and hopes to bring 6000 residents to the new Villiers Island located in the Toronto Harbour, the city should also be restoring the water and helping communities and people connect with the Toronto Harbour.
How can the City of Toronto begin to tackle this? On November 7th, 2018 the Toronto Harbour Monitoring Report 3.0 was launched along with five recommendations to help define the path for connecting people with the Toronto Harbour waters. The report was delivered to the city, along with a Letter to Mayor John Tory and all 25 of the City Councillors for review. This letter was signed and endorsed by 65 people who attended the report launch and are calling for the city to connect and restore to the Toronto Harbour waters.
Torontonians Want to Connect with the Toronto Harbour water
In a recent public survey done by Waterfront Toronto, Torontonians responded to the question: “what is most important for the future waterfront?”. The number one answer for the environment was “clean water” and the most popular answer for water activities was “swimming and bathing” (slide 145 and 147). The people in Toronto are asking for a swimming pier in the Toronto Harbour, and the possibility of this is on the horizon of Lake Ontario. One quick and easy step the City of Toronto can take to help achieve this public demand is to implement the five recommendations in the Toronto Harbour Monitoring Report 3.0:
Place signs at each combined sewer outlet on the waterfront;
monitor flows from combined sewer outlets located near recreational use areas on the waterfront;
inform the public in real-time when those combined sewer outlets are flowing;
clean up sewage debris immediately after a sewer overflow event; and,
fund water quality monitoring in recreational use areas near combined sewer outlets.
To date, 8 city councillors have confirmed that they received the report, and currently, have no questions on the findings.
The Next Steps for the Toronto Community Monitoring Program
As the future of Toronto's waterfront at Ontario Place continues to be debated, the idea of a public swimming pier might become a reality rather than just a dream. The water monitoring program will be back in 2019 for another season of water sampling. We'll be adding new sampling sites including one at Ontario Place and also continue sampling at the current sites. This will help show that swimmable, drinkable, fishable water can be achieved for Toronto's ever-evolving waterfront. An open water swimming pier can transform communities, and the Gord Edgar Downie Pier in Kingston is an inspiring example of a city embracing its waterfront. Is Toronto ready to take the next step and open a public swimming pier out into the lake at Ontario Place?
What Community Actions can do to help restore the Toronto Harbour water?
Read and share the Toronto Harbour Monitoring Report 3.0 and summary graphic below, and then;
write a letter to your local City Councillor endorsing the recommendations - contact us for a draft letter, and finally;
Volunteer to help take water samples for the 2019 sampling season - Monitoring Team signup.