TORONTO -- More than half the buildings on the Toronto Islands are being threatened by rising water levels in Lake Ontario that have already closed the popular summer destination to the general public.
Toronto Mayor John Tory says 261 buildings, or about 52 per cent of the structures on the islands, are at risk of damage from flooding while about 40 per cent of the Toronto Island Park is already under water.
Tory says industrial pumps are currently removing 500,000 litres of water per hour from the islands, and thousands of sandbags have been set up along the shoreline.
Unusually high water levels in Lake Ontario brought on in part by heavy rains in recent weeks have largely shuttered parts of the islands, which boast beaches, an amusement park and other tourist attractions. There are also a number of private homes on the islands.
The city says permits for events on the island have been cancelled until June 30, and ferry service is restricted to residents and staff only.
It has said that water levels are not expected to return to normal for several weeks even without further precipitation.
Tory said the potential damage to beaches and buildings along the island means the public cannot visit the area safely for some time.
"We can't have people even where it appears to be dry walking around because there are buildings that are at risk," Tory told a news conference while touring the island. "We just don't need them to be in a place that's potentially unsafe or to be possibly causing further risk to those buildings."