Restoring degraded shorelines: Toronto Islands

Long Pond, Toronto, Ontario.

Photo: Laud Matos, Environment and Climate Change Canada.

2014-2015 Funding: $267,050, including $40,000 provided by the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund

Other Project Contributors: City of Toronto, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Redpath Sugar, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Toronto Port Authority, and Waterfront Toronto.

New recreational fishing platforms on Long Pond are giving anglers and visitors a close-up view of ongoing efforts, supported by the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund, to improve aquatic habitat and angling opportunities in the Toronto Islands and Outer Harbour.

To date, more than 400 metres of aquatic habitat have been restored along the shoreline of Long Pond, on the Toronto Islands, and the West Shore of the Outer Harbour.  The focus is on providing critical foraging, refuge and overwintering habitat for northern pike other species

Long Pond was first dredged in 1909, and has long been a popular area for recreational boating. Over the years, the pond’s shoreline became eroded due to wave action from passing boats and a lack of vegetation in the shallow waters and on shore. The erosion, in turn, led to an overall reduction in the quality and availability of habitat for many popular angling fish species.

The Long Pond project is one of many projects restoring habitat and wetlands in the Toronto and Region Area of Concern under the Toronto Waterfront Aquatic Habitat Restoration Strategy. Through the projects, shorelines are being re-contoured to add complexity, with materials such as cobbles, gravels, large logs and smaller woody materials added to increase the habitat diversity and provide more naturalized aquatic habitat. Aquatic vegetation such as cattails have been transplanted below the waterline and native trees and shrubs such as silky dogwood, American cranberry and common elderberry, have been planted to create a natural shoreline and buffer human activity and disturbance. 

The recreational fishing platforms, which are easily accessed by public transportation, provide a safe area from which to fish while preventing trampling of sensitive areas along the shoreline. Given that the platforms are close to highly productive fish habitat and relatively calm and cool waters, anglers at the sites can expect to catch sport fish species such as northern pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pumpkinseed sunfish, black crappie, brown trout and Chinook salmon.

The Urban Recreational Fishing Strategy, another recently completed initiative funded by the Great Lakes Sustainability Fund, recognized the need to enhance fishing opportunities in the area by creating quality public access sites for recreational anglers to enjoy, while protecting and restoring fish habitat. This need is particularly relevant today as the nearshore habitat and fishing community have improved along the Toronto waterfront. Today, the overall health of the lake is improving and the fish from these waters are much safer to eat than decades ago.

The recreational fishing community has expressed strong support for the habitat restoration work and fishing platforms. For example, local fishing groups have attached plastic recycling tubes to fish signs at the designated fishing spots to encourage visitors to recycle their fishing line and maintain the sites for other users.

For more information on the Toronto and Region Area of Concern, and Aquatic Habitat Toronto please visit: Toronto and Region Remedial Action Plan and Aquatic Habitat Toronto.

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