Three of the Great Lakes are at their highest water levels on record
Record water levels in the Great Lakes and surrounding rivers have left some businesses scrambling as the tourist season is in full swing.
Owners of the Thousand Islands Playhouse, a theatre in Gananoque, Ont., typically sees a good portion of their business in the summer as tourists flock to “Canada’s Dockside Theatre” for a show, but this year their dock is completely submerged in the waters of the St. Lawrence River.
“It's unfortunate when people come expecting to be able to tie their boat up and come see a show and it's underwater,” Emily McMahon, the marketing manager for the Thousand Islands Playhouse, told CTV News.
The St. Lawrence River has seen unusually high water levels due in part to run off from the Great Lakes, where waters have risen to record highs in Lakes Superior, Erie and Ontario. Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are both nearing record highs as well.
The Thousand Islands Playhouse won’t know the full extent of the damage to their dock until the water recedes, but early estimates are up to $100,000. Theatre operators fear the repairs will threaten the future of the theatre as it relies on ticket sales and government grants to stay open.
At the Gananoque Boat Line, extra staff has been hired to scrape off algae off the boardwalk so customers don’t slip and injure themselves. They’ve already spent thousands on electrical repairs, on top of the $150,000 they spent following flooding in 2017.
On the Toronto Islands, a popular tourist destination in Lake Ontario, a ferry service has been cancelled to one of the islands, while one of the beaches and two of the islands are closed to visitors.
Some experts say it’s too early to blame climate change, but locals say something has definitely changed.
“When you were younger the river froze in December,” said Neil McCarney, the general manager of Gananoque Boat Line. “You skated on the river as a kid, now you see things like years where the river doesn't freeze.”