Woodbine Beach volleyball season begins despite flood damage

CP24 by Amara McLaughlin – The volleyball courts at Woodbine Beach took a beating over the last week when the city’s east-end Beach neighborhood was transformed into “Woodbine Lake” due to relentless rains and gusting winds slamming waves from Lake Ontario further onto its shore than they’ve been in decades.
Despite flooding, which submerged a significant portion of more than 100 courts, beach volleyball organizers, which typically use the courts at Woodbine Beach, says volleyball season will kick off Tuesday evening.
“The season will resume tonight, one day later than scheduled,” said Ontario Volleyball Association manager of beach programs Suzanne Wallace.
The first game of the spring season was supposed to start May 8, but “Mother Nature won this battle,” the group said on Twitter Friday.
“It’s good at least some of these courts are free,” said Warren Currell, who was helping set up nets along the beach this afternoon so his son could play tonight.
“It’s unbelievable how much damage has been done. I don’t even know when it will be able to come back. It looks like it will take a long time to dry out.”
City crews have been working overtime to dry up the beach which was reduced in size by nearly half by floodwaters.
City staff and Toronto and Region Conservation Authority also used heavy equipment to build sand berms and installed armor stones – piles of large rocks that protect against wave action and prevent erosion.
Lake Ontario, which has risen nearly 25 centimeters since May 1, according to data from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, is the primary culprit for the current state of the beach.
But this doesn’t include last month’s extreme wet weather, which the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board told CP24 was “well about normal.” In that time, Lake Ontario rose 45 centimeters.
The city’s manager of Waterfront Parks James Dann expects the water levels will continue to rise for at least the next month.
“There is nothing we can do to help drain the inland lake because there is currently no risk to infrastructure,” he said. “Crews are focusing their efforts on Toronto Island where there is infrastructure at risk.”
He is not sure how long it will take the inland lake to dry up, explaining that pumping won’t resume until later on in the season when lake levels have reduced.
But this decision leaves almost 70 per cent of beach volleyball players off the court due to limited space.
“That’s about half of what we need to accommodate everyone who has registered, so not all participants can play,” said Wallace.
The association is assuring players registered in leagues that play on Woodbine Beach they will try to accommodate as many players as possible, but they can’t help Mother Nature.
“We’re just happy to have some volleyball down here at Ashbridges,” she added.